On Clare Island, Ireland by Martin Willitts Jr.

On Clare Island, Ireland

a family marches on cobblestone
uphill
curved like a gull’s wing
by the breakwater wall

waves clash on the brick wall
a soundless gong

the ocean is unsettled
absorbing a child’s fear
using it against the world

wind bullies them around

on one side of the wall
fence posts have strung wire
like at the Normandy front lines
light shooting through the intersections

on this side sea spray on the stone walkway
life is slippery and elusive

the family wears black wadding boots
bright yellow lifejackets
a child has a toy soldier in a pocket
he will bury it at the crest
and mark the location later on paper

the water is grief-stricken and anxious

blue-grey skies crawl low to the ground
rain shifts its weight
a rainbow streaks a bomb burst

the boy will wear a yellow slicker in his nightmares
the hill will seem higher as he walks upwards
his feet never touching hallowed ground
the wounded toy soldier in his pocket will cry rain
there is never an end to this dream
even when awake

the world is slippery and chilled

by Martin Willitts Jr.

Martin on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The last line of this poem weaves together the imagery of the preceding lines to great effect. The suggestion of grief is subtle, but emphatic.

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