Identification In Belfast By Robert Lowell

(I.R.A. Bombing)

The British Army now carries two rifles,
one with rubber rabbit-pellets for children,
the other’s of course for the Provisionals….
‘When they first showed me the boy, I thought oh good,
it’s not him because he’s blonde
I imagine his hair was singed dark by the bomb.
He had nothing on him to identify him,
except this box of joke trick matches;
he liked to have them on him, even at mass.
The police were unhurried and wonderful,
they let me go on trying to strike a match…
I just wouldn’t stop you cling to anything
I couldn’t believe I couldn’t light one match
only joke matches… Then I knew he was Richard.’

 

(Robert Lowell 1917-1977.)

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