The Irish Army discharged him ‘cured.’
At least they paid him a pension, though
it couldn’t compensate for loss
of future. Orphan boy, born poor
left school at fourteen. Now the chance
of a commission gone. One year
in Dublin, city fair, but not
so fair as the O’Neill girl who
enchanted him, his life’s great love.
He married her in forty-four
back home in Belfast. Ten months later
came a boy. Cured man again
in hospital and coughing blood.
A knight with shining scalpel saved him.
Eighteen long months later, free
to convalesce in Cassie’s cottage.
What a dream for those whose Ireland
was composed of such! The sweethearts
plus his namesake set up home
and soon a girl was born. Her mother
boiled the milk from Cassie’s farm
scrubbed laundry with a washboard
in a tin bath in the yard. The man
and boy would take the ferry with
the heavy lithium radio battery
over Strangford Lough to have it
charged. Forty plus years later
Kerry girl, bereft of son and husband
came again to Cassie’s. It was gone
replaced by clone of cottage
white and clean and new, and all
her memories and love gone with it.
In loving memory of Terence John Burns (sen) d.1982, Terence John Burns (jun) d. 1983 and
Sheila (O’Neill) Burns d.2014