Out to Tender

© By Jean Bleakney

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Out To Tender

Ceasefire, 1994

All along the motorway
they’re resurfacing and bridge-strengthening
and seeding the central reservation
with wild flowers.

But only an hour or so ahead
there is fierce growth in the ditches
and the road diminishes
to unmendable potholes.

And there are places where the light
suddenly drops; where the branches,
out of reach of the hedgecutter,
are irrevocably pleached.


The whole talk these days is about words;
the glitzy newly-honed nouns
—like peace and process and permanence.

But there are other things to be said
with reference to particular definitions
and in deference to the vernacular.

There are townlands where parameters
invariably decline to perimeters;
where you can’t be middle-of-the-road
when you’re the whole road.

Here come the cowboy landscapers
with their quick-fix Castlewellan Golds.
As an old Fermanagh woman would’ve said,
The same boys can do feats and shite wonders.

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