An old photograph

They squint at invisible suns
little men of nine or ten.
No frivolity mars this image
of sombre seriousness.

No smile cracks a childish face,
no light painted in ancient eyes,
they were born to die in hard work,
flesh to stony fields and long roads.

hands shaped to sow seed of forage,
and harvest long autumnal rows.
Bone to harbours and fishing boats,
backs to fight the bite of frayed rope.

Their faces echo grey futures,
eyes pinched, wrinkled by suns to come.
Faces pulled tight to rictus grins,-
by seas squalls and heavy black soil.

The sepia sky indented
as heavy horse were trotting it
Or a wide beamed wooden trawler
seeding the clouds with days to come.

Dave Kavanagh

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