From behind the moon boys' graves bleed endlessly; from photograph to browning photograph they blacken headlines, stranded outside of time at the story's frigid edge. Though they are long buried in French soil, we are still speaking of trenches, of who rose, who fell, who merely hung on. The morning drills secretly, like an element that absorbs. We are right back where we were before the world turned over, the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone are all that Sunday means. Their North was not 'The North that never was'. Artemis, protector of virgins, shovels up fresh pain with the newly-wed long-stemmed roses, pressing two worlds like a wedding kiss upon another Margaret: lip-Irish and an old family ring. It's like asking for grey when that colour is not recognised, or changes colour from friend to friend. I track the muse through subwoods, curse the roads, but cannot write the kiss.
From The Soldiers of Year II by Medbh McGuckian. Copyright © 2003 by Medbh McGuckian. Used by permission of Wake Forest University Press All rights reserved.