Tuesday 8 December 2020



(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