A poem for Remembrance Sunday, by Sarah Clancy


As I Walked Out A Bit Too Late.

(after Francis Ledwidge and Laurie Lee on Remembrance Sunday)
As I set out this morning just before noon
the sky held eye contact one blue second too long
but like Laurie Lee I set off too late,
I left when Guernica had already fallen.
I’ve known since birth and before that during winter,
and wartime we mustn’t squander anything,
especially the few bright hours the season gives us
and that on Remembrance Sunday
we should offer all things up.

But today I woke too late for weather forecasts
and I was born too late for greatness
and now the slant rain has caught me miles out
and ill-equipped when I should have known better,
when I can’t remember why I came.,
And there’s no ‘great’ war nor will be,
there are only the lonely verses overhead wires speak
to no one in particular and the drum of rain on
the corrugated iron roof of the shed
where I take shelter.

And in this cat piss and earth-smell hideout
there’s a cobweb empire shining in the sharp light
from the doorway on this short November day,
and there’s no ‘great’ war nor will be
and no snipe or curlew sing,
there’s no yellow Bittern here to call
for anyone in particular, or for anyone at all,
there’s only the almost music of an un-oiled hinge
on a useless, banging, gate

Sarah Clancy is the Bogmans Cannon Irish People’s Poetry Champion