© By John Montague

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i.m. Grandmother Hannah Carney

Hawk nose, snuff-stained apron;
I stand beside you again in
the gloom of your hallway
peering up & down Fintona’s
cattle-stained Main Street
some thronged fairday evening.

As you ramble on, like someone
sick or drunk, confessing to
a stranger in a bar, or train;
ignoring my small years, while
you spell out your restless pain,
mourn a tormented lifetime.

Frank, your pride, eldest boy,
interrogated again and again,
arrested in your warm kitchen,
bayonets and British voices
bullying him abruptly away
to the barbed wire, the tin

huts of Ballykinler, model
for Long Kesh, Magilligan.
Your youngest son, Tom, then
drills in the old bandroom
to follow him; soon lands
himself into the Curragh prison.

Released, your two internees
were met at the railway station,
cheered and chaired home
with a torchlight procession:
but one half of the town
held its blinds grimly down.

Still hatred and division
stain that narrow acre
from which you sprang.
A half century later
the same black dreams
return to plague your daughter,
their sister, my mother.

A Paisleyite meeting
blared outside her window.
A military helicopter
hovered over the hospital,
a maleficent spider. Her
dying nightmares were of her
sons seized by soldiers!

Across the rough, small hills
of your country girlhood –
the untamed territory of
the Barr, Brougher Mountain –
we brought your daughter home,
yellow car beams streaming;
a torchlight procession.

© John Montague, Procession, complete text, from A Flowering Absence, Section V of The Dead Kingdom 1984

John Montague depicts the divisions in families and communities during the Troubles.

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