The Meaning of Fireworks
Da laid out in the front parlor: his father at the last, pasty-faced
in an oak coffin with brass handles; O'Malley, his son and heir,
thought the practice barbaric, if not blooming bloody outrageous
-- but 'twas the way of the old country: expected if not
always amenable to modern taste; O'Malley the priest expected
to accept all the old rigamarole like a jolly old boy: the good son.
He'd been exiled among the Indians of the Americas, become foreign
to the ways of Sligo, although he'd slid into the place between showers
to share the old man's final moments, his final torments -- hallelujah.
And so, now, as Da is lowered into the clammy, earthworm soil below
the brooding headland of Benbulben, orange montbretia raked by rain,
O'Malley remembers the fireworks tableau the Mestites had rigged up
to celebrate the death of the guerilla Delgado -- crude papier maché
figure, a piñata for their hatred; yellow catherine wheels whirled
as red and blue skyrockets streaked skyward: death forever glorified.
Christopher T. George
The O'Malley Poems