They are here
They have no choice.

Was there a prayer
Unspoken or unheard?
A voice in fear or anger, or despair?
For still you find
The silence is not dead
The wind is not the wind.

Lean back against the wall now,
Let your breathing fade
To nothingness:
They breathe instead.

Perhaps they call
in whispers and in rustlings
Such as pass unnoticed in the world outside


That here there is no Outside:
This is all they have.

For you, the door is open, and the stair
Leads upward to the light.
If you should choose


They know you now. and where you go
They go with you.

Jenny Brien

This poem was inspired by an image from the inside of Kilmainham Gaol (though I did not know where it was at the time of writing). It was published in New Worlds New Voices in 2022 as part of the University of Ulster’s Books Beyond Boundaries project.

Image: Spiral staircase Kilmainham Gaol


One thought on “Aftermath”

  1. Jenny – Even though the jail is long closed – the dead are still interred in the prison’s interior. Not even bones survive, as lime ensured complete obliteration. Your poem captures a kind of sacred presence bound in sensations of unremembered sacrifice.

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