It is the Sound – by Frank McMahon
of a child abandoned on a hillside
of a man’s tears falling across a rock
of a seabird caught in a trough of oil
of a whale lost amongst the throb of engines
of a mother pleading for the life of her child
It is a sound
drawn from wet, wind-hammered fells
drawn from the curlew’s piping
and the lapwings winter cry
drawn from the farmer robbed of his fields
drawn from the tribes driven into exile
drawn from a saw cutting bone
It is a sound distilled
from the edge of extinction
from war’s obliteration
from the driving out of mercy.
It is sound that grinds against the skin
that lacerates the heart
but is not heard by all and so it must be amplified
a threnody for the loss of hope
played by the last surviving piper.
This poem first appeared in the online literary magazine ‘I am not a silent poet’ in June 2019.