“Watch our Brian,” our ma shouted from the kitchen,
elbow deep in peelings.
“No bother” I called, plumping down my bag and coat.
But when I made a mug of tea, he’d slipped away
for a wee dander on the street.
I let him have his play,
Not wanting to bother our ma.
“Your Brian’s been shot!
A shrill wee voice burst into the house,
a pal, no doubt, playing a prank.
What a thing to say! But my heart leapt
to my mouth, and I went outside,
not wanting to scare our ma.
They’d taken him next door
and laid him on the sofa.
His arms and legs thrashed,
his blonde hair was soaked in red;
He’d brought up his food, and his eyes were blind.
I held him close,
not wanting our ma to see him like this.
“They dragged him by his ankles!” people around me cried:
“They tried to carry him off!”
We eyed the khaki-clad soldiers
as they shoved into the ambulance.
But I elbowed my way in
as they held back our screaming ma.
At the hospital, they tried to bring him back,
the doctors and nurses,
as they worked in a ring of military forces
holding closed the door.
They pushed at his heart and patched up his head,
but they didn’t let me hold him,
to stand in for his ma.
They put him on machines
to breathe for him, but my brother was gone,
blown out from his own head:
and six days later he was dead.
At the funeral, on his birthday
I carried the cards and balloons
she’d bought for him;
our prostrated ma.
13-year-old male, died six days after being hit by a plastic bullet fired by the British Army, near his home in Belfast.