Valletta.Sun burns down on city streets,bringing in the light, beauty,in the shadows, mystery,lost in ancient rows of homes and steps,cracked flagstones balanced one upon the other,or rooted into living rock,tight alleyways frame views of a wave tossed harbour,an artist might go blind from the wonders,or mad from the ceaseless wind.
Seen It I have seen the love,when Father makes himself into a bed,to raise the weary child from off the deck,cradling all the treasure of the world,within his arms, underneath thin blankets. I have seen the love,of brother held fast to brother,sleeping, no support but each other,I had not the words to ask,did they even share a Mother?
Peters Fish Red, golden, green, the scales of Peters fish,stretched and nailed to the curve of the dome,held up by pious prayers, feverish pleas and hope of the wounded,the hospital arches of yellowed stone, barred with wrought iron,twisted and anchored deep into faith,by head and feet, anointed shells of men, bent battered forms.
The Tower of Il-Gardjola We hear it all,the endless message,carved high into the battlements,conform and heed our call. We see it all,the lidless eye is never sleeping,stays dry mid widows weeping,for the husbands who lay bleeding.
From Pontus to Sophia. Currently, in the Central Southern Mediterranean LÉ Samuel Beckett is on patrol, with fifty-six Irish service personnel embarked. She is the physical embodiment of Ireland’s commitment to a Europe Union (EU) mission which is determined to break apart the callous criminal enterprises which have extracted huge profits from the misery and death of thousands of innocents.With both an EU and United Nations (UN) mandate, the roles begin played by the Irish Navy in EUNAVFOR Med ‘Operation Sophia’, are very different from those which were undertaken by the other Irish vessels who have deployed since 2015, when LÉ Eithne first went south to answer the call from our Italian partners as part of the EU response to what has been interchangeable referred to as, the ’Mediterranean’, ’migration’ or ’refugee crisis’.
Empty. If only the innocent could be kept afloat by faith,until the rescuers come walking on the waves,to carry the children to the cradle of their mother,not let them tumble in the surf,greeting the morning with their backs,silent and stiff, the red shirt on the tiny frame.
Mothers of Many Nations. Mothers are mothers, white, brown, yellow, black.no divide amongst the races by colour, creed or social status,each mother cradles two generations inside her during gestation,endless cord to the dawn of time,when your mother's mother was also mine. The abuse and danger a mother will endure,as she sets out unsure - to fleefetching up on a Libyan shore,with the precious child, her world.
Shelter. There's a sheltered spot on the Starboard quarter,where I stand with no other,gazing out across the sea,I watch the melting colours of the sky,like a fire burning away the barrier,between this world and the next,I can't often be still of late,lingering in such beauty undeservedly,which stirred youth before life gave way to adult pursuits.
STRIPPED.W hat if all you had was gone? What if all you had was a black bag and the clothes on your back? What if all you loved went limp and slipped from your fingers into the deep blue?
The Middle Sea. If you drew back the ocean waves,the graveyard of the middle sea would be seen,strewn with the bodies of the poor,from a hundred nations, they lie scattered by the thousands,on the seabed, blanketed in the forever dark. The ocean has no memory or mercy,the sand will not a headstone make,there will be no names carved in Tripoli or Valetta for these nameless bones,locked or trapped inside decrepit hulks,they tried to cross the waters with pitiless men.
Merciful Sleep. Nameless and blameless,drownings not painless, Saint, sinner, soldier and thief, weeping child for their mother,father lost brother, Muslim, Christian and Sikh.
Faces. I draw faces on the nitrile* gloves with care,never more struck by my privilege,until I meet those without a home,a child alone,the laughter and delight at a simple toy,a joy,they are gathered at my feet,their little bundles stand out in stark relief,drawing in the bright sun,on expensive paper with cheap crayons.