by Donal O'Flynn

She shoved a small bottle under her aprons

and came towards me, darkening the passageway

from “Ancestor” by Thomas Kinsella


The night I heard the Banshee

she passed away.

In my screaming fear

dada and mama woke.


We'd seen her in the convalescence

home a few days earlier.

I was confused because of the cot

A big peoples' cot with bars and lots of pillows


Her eyes were open but she didn't answer to

any of us the whole time                         staring.

Mama told me grandma was very sick and

I should pray she'd get better.


I'd slept with grandma on the hard bed

by the warm Aga wall for ages before she got sick.

She was soft, cuddly and smelt of snuff, mints and must.

Every night we said the rosary.

Her big black beads passing in the dark when it came time for me to “Hail Mary……..”


No sleep until we had blessed all the family, scattered relations, friends                         and                         enemies.

It felt like there were hundreds then.


She used to tell me all the time - “follow in your fathers' footsteps”

Sometimes    following him shooting or fishing

I'd fall behind lepping on muddy ground from big

footstep             to             big footstep

I was grown a man before understanding what she meant