Monday, July 13, 2020

Marching Season

Marching Season

He had no truck with the Billy Boys, my dad.
When cameras cut to Drumcree
and the crowds on Garvaghy Road,
he would leave the room, ignoring 

the brass band pomp and TV holler,
hectoring preachers and speech of fury.

He escaped at twenty, but was drawn back

at sixty-five. We went over, me and him.

I was given a new first name.

‘I might have to call you John,’
he said, as we called on distant kin.

Small talk disturbed a living room

in the shade of the shipyard.

Pleasantries strained, an old boy 

waving his cane: ‘Is he Catholic, your son?’ 
My father would not be drawn 

on his son’s Fenian name. 

He didn’t give two figs for the Orange 

or the Boyne. Let the bloodied hand 

of Uí Néill glad-hand the parasites. 

He had no time for the Twelfth
and left this world on the eleventh

as if to make a point, I’ve always thought, 

to sneak the last word.

© Seán Martin 2020

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