THROWING STONES IN CORK
In the summer holidays
we stayed out late talking about
soldiers, school, slingshots, and soft eyelids.
Between the bench and the goldfish
pond, children throwing stones in
Ebron, I too learned my skill to make
flat ones skitter off the surface of
someone else's promises and strike
the man rushing our brother from
his home in Warsaw. Barmitzvah
and the ashes of Christmas falling
over the Hill of Mosques. Who put
the stones in our hands, pulled our cities
down while we sat around a quarry fire
and cooked potatoes in the embers? Our
brother from Warsaw clogged his speech
eating and said: I was two years there. I
got used to it and it got used to me. But
one day it had no use for me. One girl
closed her eyelids first. I had two small
rabbits when I was young where my aunt
lived in the country. I remembered them
when I was falling asleep and I wondered
if they were still there and now grown up.
Next year would have been my Barmitzvah.
We poked the ashes for the small potatoes
and burnt our eyes. She closed her eyelids
like an old woman and I was still spitting.
I could skittle a stone three times off the
water and hit a can on the other side, not
once but two out of three times. In Belfast
a brother flung and hit a soldier in the face
and was nearly shot. Our brother from
Ebron pulled out his slingshot and we
tried to swap all we had for it. He could
dent a can or smash a bottle. He was really
good. He showed us where they shot him, all
black and white like a big potato. He sliced it
in two and lapped out the center. They used to
cook potatoes in the ashes too in Warsaw.
Big ones with eyes. Seed potatoes. Those
we gave to the pigs in Ireland. You must
practice to get them skittling over the goldfish.
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