Rural Retreat

© By Gráinne Tobin

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July was worst. A young man pulled a knife
On him one evening after closing time,
The pearly sealight fading, as their roof
Shook to the ladders of the bunting squad.

Often at night they would be loudly jolted
From their deep lovers’ sleep by unseen fists
Thumping the windowpane beside their bed,
Insults in accents not yet understood.

They stuck it out, in disbelief at first.
Still the waves played along the rocky shore,
Black guillemots nested in the granite harbour.
Village life takes patience, they were told.

The pounding and the jeering petered out;
Soon they put right their house and bought a pram.
Bunting bloomed discreetly each July.
From fear or tact, they spent the Twelfth away.

In time the news was bad. The threats began.
Pregnant, she picked the shards of window glass
Out of the toy box, and arranged to sell.
Not quite intimidation, the policeman said.

From: Word of Mouth, Blackstaff, 1996

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