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The Saturday poem: The Will

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by Bernard O’Donoghue

When they discovered that my grandfather
was going, unexpectedly, to die young
of meningitis, they naturally set about
ensuring that his wife would not inherit
the farm. They assembled a group of solid men –
as they might have for the threshing: his brother
who lived south on the mountain;
a shrewd solicitor; and a man from Doon
with a good hand who often testified to wills.

There was another witness whose existence
I know from no other evidence: my father’s
Uncle Michael. I suppose he emigrated
to the States or Canada, where – I suppose again –
he was set upon at his arrival
for the few pounds sewn inside his coat
and dumped into the sea, or maybe shunned
because of the disease he carried
and left to die in the plague sheds of Grosse Île.

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