On 30 August 200 1 , in Croan Lodge, Clonmel, Deirdre Crowley was shot dead by her father, Christopher, before he turned the gun on himself. The guards were close to rescuing her from her father/kidnapper when the tragedy occurred. She was six years old.

On arrival there was no thaw.
No obvious reason to withdraw
from sight. No questions asked.
Deirdre was seen once or twice.
Last November’s ice remained
on the doorstep.

It wasn’t easy
to keep to yourself. She was too young
for the school a hundred yards down
the road; the Loreto’s red jumper,
white blouse, green pinafore – not skirt.
It must hurt to keep the curtains closed,
but no one was allowed pose a threat.
A false name was billed for milk,
groceries paid for in cash, not cheque.
She asked for a Sky Digital dish,
her Christmas wish, your something
to muffle her cries, to keep her
from outside.

Swallows are still here.
Summer beats the Comeraghs’ drums.
Two years on the run slip
between someone’s teeth.
There’s the knock on the door,
and the grief a few words can impart.
One minute more to pack.
Before departure creaks, you kiss
her forehead, chin and cheeks
with your stubble.