Bad News from Home

© By Gráinne Tobin

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Just to be there would not be enough:
To stop at neighbours’ gates and ask,
Have you heard the news? And see their faces

Seeing your face.
Behind shop counters, men would shake their heads.
You wouldn’t feel like doing anything that day,
Maybe just watching tides and the horizon.

Images sent to the world on amateur video
Over and over like traditional music,
‘til you learn to open your eyes through the whole sequence,
Sean-nós, pure pitch with the grace-notes of agony.
The decent lens can scarcely frame or focus.
There’s an emptiness in the scattered street
Where women wander, talking to the wind,
Blood on their faces, looking for each other.
Something universal, yet so much like home,
You want to go over the shock of it again,
Not to leave them straying by themselves
In the aching gleam of hospitals, the dimmed cortèges.

Scanning beach news-stands for yesterday’s foreign papers,
We’re helpless here as we’d be helpless there.
A correspondent interviews survivors:
Everyone knows everyone in a place like that.

From: Banjaxxed, Summer Palace Press, 2001

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