(on the 20th Anniversary, 08/12/20)
There’s a map and a line on a map
that moves from one identified place
in Dublin to another, past premises
still standing as they stood that night
among the city's transformations.
A line which comes to an end
at his last confirmed sighting.
There’s a clear-cut journey traced
to the last CCTV footage
where he is seen in wind and rain,
bent under an umbrella, passing
an ATM on Haddington Road,
a man in black not far behind him.
And beyond that, mystery,
and all that it entails.
O day and night but this...
The journey on the map
has a clear and verified progress,
the kind which many follow
after an office Christmas party –
moving on to a night club
and walking home in the small hours,
calling to collect an umbrella
at his workplace on the way.
A time recorded to the millisecond
by a phone's answering machine
on which he left a message
spoken in good spirits.
And then the cruel hiatus
of twenty years, a young man
who should be in his forties now
an uncle to grown children,
but is nothing more than the point
where a line stops on a map
some distance from his home,
no voice or sight or touch
and nothing making sense.
A trail that vanishes before
reaching the frontier of meaning,
a sinkhole in the city’s heart.
O Hades, may Persephone
soften your heart to those
who loved this youth and who
have parented for far too long
the night’s unkindest mystery.
© Ciaran O'Driscoll, 2020