It’s 18 years later and I’m strolling down O’ Connell Street.
I notice a rough-sleeper in a shop doorway. There is a queue
for the bank machine contouring around his limbs
as he lies face down on the hard ground talking loudly to himself.
I remember how the investigators worked flat out in Kosovo,
almost captive to the corners of fields and the cruelty
of the events they sought to prove, the soil they touched
became a membrane surrounding remote scars.
They lay face down at times in abandoned crops,
measuring tracks, listening for crowded spaces,
recording the gossip of trees.
They reminded me of Indian scouts from the movies,
feeling for the signature of passing armies
in the broken grass beneath their fingers.
They were asking the dead for directions, the way somebody
might search a cemetery, calling on long deceased
relatives to whisper if they are close or not.
Soon the world will discover another war crime and the skeletons
of civilisation will once more bear witness to its own ******.
As the Earth opens recent wounds I imagine the rough-sleepers
as skeletons of society communicating with scouts,
investigators leaning over precipices,
contemplating what goes into the filling of a trench.
Michael J. Whelan
O’ Connell Street = Main Street of Dublin, capital city of Ireland,
Published in Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Magazine, September 2018 Issue