By Anne Casey
It was there in the delicate arc of her clavicle,
the fine rise of her cheek, her eyes’
It is here, dragging at the ragged edge
of his flapping shirt, his capless head,
in his kneebones scraping the frozen stones
of the street. It is here
in the scraps
of straw he lays beneath her head
to pillow her dreams
in his blistered hands clenched to jutting ribs,
in his bowed head
as he grieves
alongside the quickening streams of passing feet
far from their stolen fields on the lands
his little girl now freed. It is here: his last companion,
constant, unyielding as his defeat.
It is here
in his bereft grip, this consuming
that never leaves.
Read Anne's introduction to the poem here.
Note: Ocras means ‘hunger’ in Gaeilge, the native Irish language which was forbidden under colonial rule. This poem was inspired by a newspaper report entitled ‘Conditions of Ireland. Illustrations of the new “Poor Law”’ published in The Illustrated London News during the Great Irish Famine on 22 December 1849.