BROTHERS NO ARMS (Paul O’Brien)

 

The body language was wary

No handshake, no pleasantries

When they both sat down together

To start a new peace

Pretending at first to be strangers

As they carefully pulled up their chairs

One cleaning his glasses half smiling

One running a hand through his hair

 

Though they knew every line, every furrow

Each other’s habits and traits

Manners and favorite colours

It’s the first time they met face to face

With only a table between them

With bottles of water and pens

And a document waiting for signing

Saying “This is where it all ends!”

 

The first put his name to the paper

The other one just sat and watched

Taking his time, for good order

Not letting himself to be rushed

“Did you come all this way to ignore me?”

Said one, taking bull by the horns

While his partner burst into a chorus

Of  “Memories” and “Shirt factory horns”

 

But he checked himself and said “Sorry

My mind was just miles away

It was wandering past Free Derry Corner

The ”Troubles” and freshly dug clay

“We just have to put that behind us

Though I’m not saying forgive or forget

But if we pool our resources

We could stop the water tax yet!”

 

At last they had reached understanding

And they’d a thirst on like never you mind

“Now as soon as we’re done here

I know a good place for a pint!”

The paper-work all done and dusted

They stood up and pocketed pens

There was still no sign of a handshake

No talk of meeting again

 

Later on, down in a sheebeen

The reverend took out a few pound

“You can keep your hand in your pocket

You got the last, it’s my round”

“Let’s drink a toast to devolution

And a toast to all we have lost

The water flows free in our cisterns

But God Oh! God what a cost!”