1st March 1965
When I was one they resurrected him,
dug up the scraps of bone from Pentonville quicklime,
packed them in oak, draped flags, slow-marched
the gun-carriage through sleety 60s streets.
Snow flickered images on our TV screens,
huddled crowds signing as the carriage crossed
to the beat of Charles Mitchell’s sonorous tones
requiem in pacem.
Did it come from this, that first terror?
Did I confuse Casement with the Michan’s Mummy,
think his Glasnevin tomb must be visited,
a crusty hand shaken?
Was it he who made shadows darken
on the landing, exert a gravitational pull
through the door of the upstairs bedroom,
towards the wardrobe where the bogeyman hid
till displaced by whatever fear du jour
gripped me more bonily?
In the 70s it was ‘Tubular Bells’
that lowered temperatures, raised sheets.
In the 80s it was whatever blood carried
in illicit veins through dangerous apertures.
Each decade found its own swirling vortex
of imps straddling chests, white mares snorting.
It ends with the banality of a waiting room:
a dead celebrity waving from the cover of an old Hello,
a raised bump beneath skin, a white-draped man
scanning penumbras on illuminated screens.