The Last Ambush

By Ger Reidy

Listen to the poem, recited by Liam McNamara

Blood pulsing into the high grass
As the skylark flung notes like confetti
Into the long evening, too late now,
A time for memories, her embraces,
Family, mother, a sudden jolt of pain,
Writhing as the cuckoo and blackbird sang,
Flies, sleep for a while, then a shower of rain
On the expressionless face and the letting go
As the priest and the doctor ran over the fields.
Others escaped into the hills near Skerdagh
But Kilroy was impatient, a few weeks after
They picked off the machine gunner three times,
Let the others go, lenient, headed for the bogs,
Slept under the stars, hiding behind rock and fern,
Waterfall echo, wind in the pines, rain spitting,
Foxglove, sedge, sheep skulls and grey back crows,
Long shadows, clouds skirting in a northerly over
Devilsmother, Glenawough lake, Sheeffrey,
In the distance, Glenamong, Nephin, Currane,
Suddenly uniforms coming over the bray
Panic as they scatter again to safe houses.
Maybe it was that last ambush
That reversed the centuries of misery,
That last bullet fired for Emmett, Pearse,
The coffin ships and the wild geese,
Left us abandoned but free in an open boat
To sail without oars or sails in the dark
At the mercy of a fickle wind, becalmed,
To fight with ourselves, make our own mistakes,
The space sometimes filled with the self appointed
Hiding in the long grass, as we haemorrhaged.
Around now we can see the great canvas
Having recently shed the yokes,
Around now remember those who let go
Under the skylarks brittle notes.