Building the barn. A poem by Michael Durack

(after “Witness” directed by Peter Weir)

In the early weeks of lockdown it was all shining,
as the Welsh poet put it, it was Adam and maiden,
green leaves and bird song and unity of purpose,
the wheels of the twenty-first century ground to a halt.

Save for the social distancing it was Building the Barn,
Weir’s Lancaster County Amish all in it together,
giant frameworks raised as if by one hand,
love rivals sipping from the same lemonade glass.

Our hero no longer the alien Philadelphia cop
but a carpenter adept with hammer and auger,
at one with his quaint-bearded and straw-hatted neighbours,
their smiling bonneted women and animated children.

Discord on hold, the barn, unlike Rome, built in a day.
For the five short minutes of Maurice Jarre’s swelling score
we witnessed no dogma, no guns, no graft, no hate,
the serpent made to wait outside the garden.


Michael Durack lives in Tipperary, Ireland. His work features in journals such as The Blue Nib, Skylight 47 and Poetry Ireland Review. Publications include a memoir, Saved to Memory: Lost to View (2016) and a collection, Where It Began ( Revival, 2017.) A second collection, Flip Sides, is forthcoming from Revival Press.

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