Blight and Hunger
(The Great Famine. “ an Gorta Mór” 1845-49 Ireland)
Hunger first resides in the eyes,
then wrestles it way to the belly,
churning the muscles on its journey,
pausing only to ache,
on its way through Ox Mountain
Failing crops from Dublin to Donegal,
dead fields, costumed in decaying rot,
seasoned by deaths odour,
like an obituary notice of the poorest,
where the mercy of god played truant,
Just like the absentee landlord.
The Mother, translucent skin,
whispering with heavy eyes,
breath slowing, almost fleeing,
memories flickering in an out,
like the country mouse,
joyfully curling in the plots of bountiful corn.
The Father struggles in blighted fields,
cap in hand, his face ploughed weary,
hands raw, raging for revenge,
seeing nothing but his shadow,
destitute by English rule.
The child stood by a turf fire,
a rare moment of comfort,
so, few and numbered,
ribs, like a ladder to the heaven,
a ghost, just waiting.
Hunger was the blight of nature,
starvation, the might of Trevelyan,
delivered with brutality,
not a kernel of humanity,
Ireland under one sun, ripening the corn
and bleaching bones of a million dead.
Joe Lynch has lived and worked in Belfast, North Ireland his entire life and has recently spent time writing poetry and painting. His poetry delves into themes such as social equality, civility, and human rights.