• The Mortal Place


John Hewitt
The Mortal Place

Now it has come to this, the little glen
within the tree-groined slope of the quarried hill
where we lit our twig-fires some Saturdays
on flat ground near the stream we paddled in,
a few months since was nest of a hid body,
a Catholic shot by gunmen never named.

The gate which leads to that glen steps off the road
that is a highway now with frequent cars,
but once a country lane. Here then it was
my mother pushed my pram, when once I spoke
my first recorded words observing the lough,
Ship. Boat. Water – saluting its distant port
below us south in the sunny valley.
A new estate swarms up its rising ground;
there in the house, in the bed a young woman was shot,
her only crime to marry outside her faith.

From nearer home peal out familiar names
of streets beside our terrace, chiming names,
a litany of Dargle, Annalee,
Avonbeg and Roe.
The two last resonant in anxious bulletins

​John Hewitt
Catholic, Estate, Shot
Linen Hall Library, "Hewitt004", Northern Ireland Literary Archive, accessed Sat, 04/20/2024 - 23:06, https://www.niliteraryarchive.com/content/hewitt004