Their wedding photo is standard for the era,
a free-state couple scarcely smiling on church steps
vitreous after recent rain; my mother solemn
in a grey costume next to my father’s tall, brown suit
confusion—sullen as a captured rebel;
her body still sealed,
whole as a seed,
nothing on show except her hands
and tracts of slim leg—virgins
in their thirties, sex
ordered from the pulpit
as sin.

I grapple with the language of their generation
marriage act—when I think of them nude together
for the first time, in the dark
of de Valera’s dreary Eden;
pale bodies pulsing
like the sensuous motion of sea anemone,
and all the while the catechism of shame
swamps their seduction, their sounds muffled
even from their own ears—
the whispery breath of collusion.

What remains of the snapshot
is the thumbnail face of my mother
and father on memoriam cards,
the rubble of their story in my bones.
To me, they are young,
abandoned by history
to live the half-life of delinquents—
Bonny and Clyde without the car,
Bonny and Clyde without the gun.