A History of the World by Fiona Perry

A wide-eyed boy, urgent and loud banged

On our front door that night and shouted. Get Out. Bomb

He was clutching a gun talisman-tight to his camo uniform

This boy was not much older than my son is now

His hair was wet with sweat around the brim of his beret

 

My mother’s response was to pad into the kitchen,

Wrap custard creams in tissue paper for the two mile walk to

Her sister’s house. Coats over pyjamas and shoes without

Socks. The stars shouting silently. Miniature escape routes. I

Had never been out so late.

 

Now we cram into boats.

We have washed up small and dead on beaches.

Dismembered by bombs, skewered by shrapnel.

Raped and taught to kill.

They’ve thrown us half-alive on our mother’s

Corpses in open graves.

 

It is hard to believe that once food was made and packed for us.

Our hair was brushed. We said our prayers.

Someone settled us back to sleep and our cries were answered.

 

A wide-eyed boy, urgent and loud banged

On our front door that night and shouted. Get Out. Bomb

He was clutching a gun talisman-tight to his camo uniform

This boy was not much older than my son is now

His hair was wet with sweat around the brim of his beret.

 

A version of this poem was first published in A New Ulster, Issue 58, July 2017. Fiona Perry's poetry and short stories have been published in Spontaneity, The Blue Nib, Boyne Berries and Skylight47 amongst many others. Her short fiction was nominated for the Australian Morrison Mentoring prize in 2014 and 2015. Her poetry was selected for the National Poetry Day Ireland 2019 ‘Labelit’ Project.

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