You weren’t that perfect, weren’t lamb-pure or cocksure
with certainty. You weren’t as innocent as you’re made
out to be. You knew people, you knew power games,
knew that the main aim of ambition is ambition.
You knew the names of other people’s fears because you
had plenty of your own. You knew the touch of a friend
was not dependent on their cleanliness, and you knew this
because you knew need, knew the way that story bleeds
through actions of a day, and how shame makes us
play parts that are beneath us. You are beneath us, and above us,
in the song we sang as children. You are in the piss and blood;
you are spit mixed with mud, you are the rotting hand of god, waiting
for a hand to hold. You’re not gold, you’re rock; cracked open.
Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet who lives and works in Ireland. His work has been published by Canterbury Press and Hodder & Stoughton.