© By Ciaran Carson
It could have been or might have been. Everything Provisional and Sticky,
Daily splits and splinters at the top of a hat or a principle –
The right hand wouldn’t even know if it was the right hand some would claim it
As the left. If only this, if only that, if only pigs could fly.
Someone decides, hawk or dove. Ambushes are sprung. velvet fist. Iron glove.
It was on the stroke of midnight by the luminous dial of the clock
When this woman, caught in crossfire, stooped for the dashboard cigarette lighter.
In that instant, a bullet neatly parted her permanent wave. So now
She tells the story, how a cigarette made all the odds. between life. And death.
© Ciaran Carson, Hairline Crack, 1989, complete text, Belfast Confetti, 1989, The Gallery Press.
Ciaran Carson recalls the ideological disputes between paramilitary factions. The word Provisional in the first line refers to the Provisional IRA and Sticky refers to the more left wing Official IRA.