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Image by Chilli Charlie


with the martello journal


by mike huett

Pick me up
Put me down
A graveyard, Kilrush. The church, dosed-up with heritage; infested by roofers & renovators.
Me? I was looking for something, or someone.
Reared on stories of a giant of a man, a fighting man, a hard-drinking man; almost a mythical
character. He’d fought in the town’s square (often); he’d fought away at sea. (Fighting he did
a lot, apparently). Later, he became a bootlegger in America. Then finally, after so many
years, he returned home by ship … an Odyssey of sorts.
Buried down by the water, I’d been told. The lay of the land now affected by an underground
river (though with no mention of a boatman, to ferry the dead). The graves themselves, what
was left of ‘em, rising or sinking over time; sinners hell bent, perhaps?
A young labourer, all muscled enthusiasm, kindly offered help. My break, no problem, he
said. I told him the name. We set about checking, where legible.
I didn’t stop to think, it had caught my eye, I picked it up. Damp dirt pushed away revealed a
grey stick? As I stared, the lad came up, what have you there? I held it out. A leg bone that,
said he, sure they’re popping up all over.
I stood there like an actor in a very low budget production of Hamlet; the stage manager, long
unpaid, now taking the piss. Not even a skull. Alas, poor grandad. I knew him not, bar tales
Maybe I’d found the man, or part of him at least? Then again, had I found another strand of
the myth? A tragedy; huge, fighting, hard-drinking man, in the end left legless by water?
After a time, I placed it back down on the earth. Not much point taking a leg bone. I didn’t
really know whose femur it was. Besides, could’ve got a bit awkward at customs.
Anything to declare?
Er, I was looking for my roots …

Pick me up
Put me down

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