Cassandra's Answer

By

I All I can do is curse, complain. I told you the flames would come and the small towns blaze. Though

Precious little you did about it! Obdurate. Roots are obstructions as well as veins of growth.

How my thick tongue longs for honey's ease, the warm full syllables of praise.

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Instead of this gloomy procession of casualties, clich'es of disease: deaf mutes' clamouring palms.

To have one subject only, fatal darkness of prophecy, gaunt features always veiled.

I have forgotten how I sang as a young girl, before my voice changed, and I tolled funerals.

I feel my mouth grow heavy again. a storm cloud is sailing in: a street will receive its viaticum

In the fierce release of a bomb. (Good-bye, Main Street, Fintona. good-bye to the old Carney home.)

II

To step inside a childhood home, tattered rafters that the dawn leaks through, brings awareness

Bleaker than any you have known. Whole albums of births, marriages, roomfuls of tears and loving confidences.

Gone as if the air had swallowed them: stairs which climb towards nothing, walls hosed down to flaking stone:

you were born inside a skeleton.

From `Bitter Harvest,' used by permission.

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