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‘Empties’ – Shelagh Doonan

I watched
as from the dark sweet
crumbling soil

rising from his fork
appeared potatoes
white and hard.

He dropped them in the bucket.
“Take these to your mo’r”.
A man of few words.

In the kitchen she was
waiting with a boiling pan.
A scrub of spuds

A sprig of mint
and soon their floury skins were peeling back.
Drained and piled steaming

into the good round dish,
my grandfather picked first
from the top of the mound

with his special two-pronged fork
and peeled the skin off each spud
with his special knife.

Two decades on, in the same
Dark, sweet soil
I unearthed

Cache after cache of
Guinness empties,
the dark brown glass
glinting.

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