My dad would have been 76 yesterday. As I head up to Laurel Villa in Magherafelt to read this Saturday 12th April, on the eve of what would have been Seamus Heaney’s 75th birthday, I want to share one of my poems for my dad which was inspired by Digging:
My dad spent the day ferrying the dead to the barrack’s makeshift morgue.
His bloodstained nails fleshed out the truth behind the first tense headlines.
In a daze, he decommissioned his paramedic uniform,
dumped jacket, shirt, socks, trousers, even his shoes in our kitchen bin.
He smashed the lid down hard, lashed out, until the tears crashed over
the no-man’s-land of his eyes. Powerless, I watched him surrender to his cries.
I’d spent that day firing words at a blank page, trying to breathe life
into their dead weight. I surveyed my cache of notebooks, suddenly aware
my vision was useless to this man who gave life back to the dying.