The Black and Tans at a House in County Cork, 1920

In these times of oppression and suffering, particularly for my friends of color, this offering. Be well.

Kathleen McCoy

In this moving picture a slender young woman,
navel exposed, wears a sweater rumpled

across her breasts. She’s been pushed or pressed
herself against the wall, resisting roving

hands, her eyes cut glass. Another pale
milk-bloused woman bristles when a Black-

and-Tan thrusts his rifle in her face.
The eldest woman, brimful, frail, hustles

into the house where family nudges her.
A muscular young man beside the sweatered

girl moves in front of the rifle, nose
to barrel, eyes afire, their heat felt

despite the black-and-white. It’s my great-
great grandparents’ evergreen homeland

when they were grown to see this occupation
in one of the most Christian lands on earth,

when the island was still one for all
whether king or cow was your cup of tea.

My mind fills with Padraig Pearse, Black
Elk, Chas Jewett, Sandra Blaine, George Floyd,

Breonna Taylor, on either side of the pond,
I imagine how their mothers and lovers caressed

the broken knobs in their necks, stared, un-
believing, at their lifeless hands, gray lips,

these our sisters and brothers, some of the myriad
others we never treated as sisters, as brothers.

Poem refers to the film The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Actual footage of the Black and Tans can be found on several YouTube postings.