Poetry by Eadbhard McGowon

Calling your name

 

I never knew my grandfather

never made his acquaintance

nor felt his affection, his closeness.

I talk often to the dead,

try to share moments, explain my fears,

or to ask for their opinion.

 

I speak to them to make a connection.

Will they answer me from a distance?

Do they know my apprehension?

Hard to hear them in the noise

of this side’s distracting diversions.

 

I imagine an old man with white hair

holding my hand, smiling,

as we walk through streets,

lined with chestnut trees

and pass through wheat fields;

he is talking to me or remains silent.

 

Silence is often an answer

to questions whose response

would be too elusive.

In this dream we have a dialogue:

he explains things to me

and I ask hundreds of questions

to discover an unknown domain.

 

We have now a conversation

between rows of graves,

where startled deer watch the living

who search for traces of the dead,

stand motionless on the clearing

of this peaceful location, so soothing,

that even the hind and the fawn

are surprised to hear steps

on the carpetlike lawn.

 

I would have liked to listen to him,

to his experience and vast knowledge.

He suffered two wars,

survived the first, lost a son and a daughter.

He did not see the end of the second

nor Hitler’s death which he yearned for.

Nothing remained of him:

He not only lost his life.

He lost everything.

 

Only a handful of ashes is left

in a plot, one meter by one meter,

with a simple headstone.

 

I have a yellowed photo,

mounted on brown cardboard.

At the bottom it says: Atelier Raspe

Imperial court photographer 1894

an illegible address on the reverse side

handwritten in gothic script.

 

His permanent address now is:

 

Central Cemetery,

field twelve, row eight, grave thirty.

 


 

 

 

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