Terry McDonagh – The Depth of Blood


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This poem, The Depth of Blood, was written a few years ago in the response to conversations I had with refugees who had come to Ireland seeking refuge from the horrors of war and poverty. It was as if they felt they had to apologise for being human beings and in need of help. Naturally, not all people responded in this way, but some did and ‘some’ is too many.

The Depth of Blood

The host does not dance with refugees
nor does he feel their solitude.
They must promise to be good;
not to unpack; never to forget their homeland
and the shame of deserting their untidy fields.

You cannot stay!

Men, full of hard submission, stand
motionless on the pier.
Women, with dissolving eyes and no name
must hide away till nightfall, when
they drape pot-bellied men with a glow like fireflies.

They keep their minds on whistling bridges
and talking stones they knew, before
the depth of blood drove them away.

This is a time for weaning away from
lovely things. To be taken to a strange place
with little chance of return to
a promise made by a school gate
when the wind blew gently up the valley.
Check out Terry McDonagh’s poems published in Live Encounters
Poetry – LINK
Interview – LINK

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