(Ireland, in the Year of Our Lord 1649)
The sun was low when we entered the village.
The small stone mill still stood, I saw,
the gurgling rush of the stream still turning
its wooden wheel, and that still turning the mill-stones in the dark within.
The forward rushing of the stream,
the low, dull rumble of the turning stones;
no other sound.
But when we left there came to us the gentle rustling
of corn shifting in the evening breeze,
and the stirring of small birds
up in the trees, as though all was well… that
nothing had happened here.
That all the small thatched homes had not been burned
down to the ground, and smoke arising from them still;
that there were no torn men and women and little ones
lying in their blood upon the grass;
that the little church was not a blackened, empty shell;
that the friar in his bloodied frock of black and white
was not swinging, slowly swinging, from the lintel of its door.
And all the while, the unheeding water
gurgled beneath the wheel, and the wheel turned.
There was the quiet rustle of the corn,
and the stirring of the birds up in the branches,
and from within that small stone mill
the rough rumble, the grinding of the stones, turning,
turning on their own, with no man tending them.
From ‘Journeys in Time’