Niamh McNally ~ A Devastating Scene

Did you watch that wal­rus scene, on screen?
Plummeting to their deaths
A tragedy of bod­ies piled
at the base of an 80-foot cliff.
Tusks punc­ture blubber
ivory impales backs. Bellies. Eyes.
Life runs from leath­ery coats
into Russian waters
under the Arctic skies.
Skulls crack on wet­ted rocks
stack­ing the beach
with fig­ures of fur­rowed blocks.
Wrinkled blobs morph
into a mass grave
of haem­or­rhag­ing greys and browns.

Nothing to do but watch.

Straight into our lens, your flip­pers extend. A tilt from the rock face then
spread into a cru­ci­fix­ion pose. A vain exe­cu­tion. A limp creature
in slow motion begins its death descent. We watch the body’s contortion
defeat­ed by the steep incline. The lack of grip. A final tum­ble. A blind stumble?
The haul­ing out. To the water. The stu­pid­i­ty of it all. The fall.

Why are they doing this? They aren’t made for climb­ing cliffs.

They had nowhere else to go. You replied. They had nowhere else to sit.


Niamh McNally is an Irish poet from Belfast. She com­plet­ed her Master’s in cre­ative writ­ing at Ulster University whilst co-cre­at­ing and edit­ing, The Paperclip; a stu­dent-led pub­li­ca­tion. Niamh’s pub­li­ca­tions include The Tulsa Review, Capsule Stories, Tir Na nOg, The Galway Review, Illagrypho Press and recent­ly, her poet­ry fea­tured on the BBC and in Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s film about the cli­mate cri­sis. Her poet­ry is cur­rent­ly being show­cased by Bushmills as pro­mo­tion for The Causeway Collection.