Tuesday 11 February 2014



What happened to sympathy and compassion?
We don’t even ask these days, it wouldn’t be
too bad if we did. One after another
calamities, and then disasters, come
numbing us, while charity bosses line
their nests. This afternoon I watched a bird
for half an hour – or was it this morning?
I forget what struck me about the bird,
its compact size, feathered fragility
or aerial prowess? All three, perhaps.
Yesterday the Shannon burst its banks,
and a man from the city council appeared
on the news, staring into the face of doom. 
The highest tide on record, he said. Seven
inches higher than the previous one. 
Noah’s Ark, I thought, that’s what struck me about 
the bird, sent out to look for landfall from 
the Island Field, simultaneously 
a bird and symbol of deliverance.
Today, all of a sudden, climate change
is a fact, no longer open to debate:
politicians have begun to use the phrase.
Seven inches up from the previous high,
said the man from the city council on TV,
gaping at the future. Lucky so far,
I live on high ground, on the other side.

The Island Field: St Mary’s Park, a housing estate in Limerick which was very badly flooded during recent storms.

© Ciaran O’Driscoll 2014

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