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Destruction of Sligo Railway Station
January 1923

Hellish night, fires circled in my head
explosions rattled window panes
ghostly drizzle dimmed my dreams
bells filled my fitful sleep
until the day. No break. Nightmares

become reality. I hear outside
the tattoo of the army trucks
through cold, eternal rain,
marking tracks from Courthouse
to train station, destroyed
in drenched darkness by irregulars -
whitethorn boys you called them.
They drove engines through the buffers
half drowned Butterfly in high tide.
Father photographed all morning,

over lunch recalled the scenes:
useless engines on their sides
astride unparallel rail tracks,
blackened butts of buildings
and eyeless signal cabin.

I asked what he thought would happen
the citizens of this divided land
why so much division had assailed it
why Irishmen would do such evil.
You would have called them savages

chasing dreams across the years
unfit to live in our modern state
but he had no such answer, satisfied 
to have seized the images
for this week’s Sligo Champion.

I recalled map and chalk and text
Sister Gerard’s history lessons
Florentine divisions, Guelfs and Ghibellines.
The differences still a mystery to me
except that it all started with a hound.

 

 

 

 

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