Poem: Out of the Quagmire

All week I wanted to stop listening to, reading about and watching coverage of the horrific Orlando shooting, but like many people, I am transfixed by these now too-familiar stories, always looking for the why. Then I heard this woman talking on As It Happens about the discovery of a massive hunk of butter preserved for millennia in the Irish bog. It was a fascinating story, and I couldn’t help but imagine how our world might be different if we gave up all our assault rifles to the earth.

 

Out of the Quagmire

 

The Irish woman on the radio relives the moment

she touched a 2000-year-old,

22-pound hunk of odorous bog butter.

An offering to the Gods to protect

a man’s family, his fields, his livestock,

now here again in mortal hands.

A wish kept whole in the earth.

 

I’ve seen photos of bodies, pulled from the same peat,

their bronzed skin stretched across sharp cheekbones,

leather men and women with red, acid-stained hair.

Ropes around the neck, holes in the skull,

even ancient corpses tell how

but rarely the why.

 

Weapons too, preserved by the bog —

hammers, swords, spears, shields.

Iron-age artillery. Basic.

Not high capacity, quick-reload,

reliable, user-friendly, efficient.

Not marketable, profitable, stock shares soaring

before the dead have been named.

 

The Irish woman talks about what the bog can sustain,

but what will it grant? Prayers or amnesty?

Is there room enough for so many mistakes?

If we offered, would it keep our rifles

for another thousand years?

Until some future human’s hands

might pull them from the quagmire,

and note how primitive. How uncivilized.

How simple they were

to think love

could be so easily silenced.

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