Famine Shadow

This ditch ran through our family’s legends,
bleak and gully-deep with tellings handed down
from stories that her mother’s mother told.
Of how they lay the dead here heads to feet,
blessed them, tipped them in
then turned away to bring the others out.

How in the time they counted dead by miles not
they line the road to Castlefreake.
And standing where that
half-seen scar runs on through
granite,green and lean, unyielding hills
the ditch seems such a narrow thing—
four, five feet wide,three deep perhaps—no more—
But God, it’s long.

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