Their Word for Harvest Suffering
© By Medbh McGuckian
I prayed to my imperfect idol freedom
till roads and rivers moved, limousine lanes
titled into roadlessness. To my night-thirst
even the weather was a secret glaze on water,
the trouble-free future at the red street corner
split plum-soft, as if it were an organ of my body.
The over-garrisoned city still looked like
a capital. Triple kissed by the calm
on land which is found at sea – who
were we, standing five deep, shoulder
to inner shoulder, easing ourselves like stars?
© Medbh McGuckian, Their Word for Harvest Suffering, 1998, complete text, Shelmalier, 1998, The Gallery Press.
As with much of McGuckain’s work of this period this is a poem laden with the burden of the new hope developing in the 1990s, the ‘imperfect idol freedom’. Medbh McGuckian’s ‘over garrisoned city’ could be Belfast. The ‘trouble free future’ was anticipated by many in 1998.