There—but for the clutch of luck—go I

At daybreak—in the Arctic fog of a February daybreak
Shoulder-length helmets in the watchtowers of the concentration camp
Caught me out in the intersecting arcs of the swirling searchlights.

There were at least a zillion of us caught out there—
Like ladybirds under a boulder—
But under the microscope each of us was unique,

Unique and we broke for cover, crazily breasting
The barbed wire and some of us made it
To the forest edge, but many of us did not

Make it, although their unborn children did—
Such as you whom the camp commandant branded
Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. Jesus, break his fall:

And there—but for the clutch of luck—go we all.

February 1979

Paul Durcan.