Stormont building

Meditations in the suspension of Stormont 1972

Part One

For my mother I would build a monument,
if I were skilled in masonry;
a tower of Carrick stone
to guard her from the raven’s flight.
A lace-maker, she could stitch
pictures of innocence
out of this night’s drunkenness, protected
from the call of madmen dressed in madmen’s masks
battering on the wall.
But being poor, and having only words,
rough words at that, the word of farmers,
can I make a thing so fine
that she would hang it on her wall?
can I hope from truth to fall
into the heart of beauty?
A word, that’s all,
the unscabbard word,
a word to end all words – my father shouts
“To end it all! A war
to end all words!” The raven’s call;
have done with dreaming.

Part two

My father, when he was
a proud and handsome man –
his hands could easily encircle
my mother’s waist when they were dancing –
gave me land,
six counties that he said I owned.
“This land” he said, “Is our heart’s land;
your uncle fought for it in Germany,
your cousin died for it in Egypt.
Everywhere the word, the promised flesh
was Ulster’s. It is your birthright and the wing
that will protect you always.
For over there is neighbour’s land
and mother’s uncle is a rector in Fermanagh,
a man I went to school with
owns the heart of Antrim.
It is our heart’s land
and it was given
by an Act of Parliament.

Part three

Heath and Maudling break their word,
to promised flesh they break a pledge
and battlefields in Europe vomit up their groaning dead
to witness this fresh sacrilege.
A myth becomes reality
and so a song begins:
Eight hundred men brought  Stormont down,
now Proddie is Confusion’s clown …
the masks go on; the dance begins.
All now are gathered in that black myth’s wing –
as if a word from me could have changed anything.

Part four

My mother
in the weeping room
of our small house in Belfast,
stitches out a final landscape;
of how we lived, how once we lived,
long walks at dusk, the harvest bells,
church on Sunday and the country school,
tales to tell
of sailors and the grey sea;
of saints and servants,
stories in the hall.
At last she looks upon our final landscape,
but now sees blood where she had stitched the sky;
she cries out once, “Have done with dreaming,
all my pictures tell a lie.”
The rebels come,
they burn her pictures, break her loom
and soldiers, turning, find her
in her weeping room.

© Shaun Traynor 1974