Patrick’s Testament
For Patrick McDaid, Steve Smith,
Eartha Holley, the cast and the crewof
Thought bullets hit my brain at the theatre last night
when I realized that your FIRETHORN is not just a complex or a difficult play,
but both history and your testament in which you give us culture, destruction,
pain, and, here and there, a touch of hope, the language of the conquered
who want to remain Irish, even though they long ago lost
the language of Eire and now speak the language of those who bit off
part of the green isle, but with a lilt and a vengeance that has made Ireland
the spring of some of the best
of English literature,  
when you and Steve Smith, our young director and your heir in the lair
down in the Black Box, who relates to those who came before us,
played the rhythms of Cuba and left us alone
in the darkness,
sparing us, right in front of our eyes, none of the details of tying to trees
young men who had collaborated with Battista’s corrupt regime,
blindfolding the last few minutes of their lives, before firing
bullets into their brains, bullets into the bodies of their souls,   
when you brought back the struggles for equality in the US in class and color-
torn America, when you made the audience gasp at the verbal abuse
by a young white woman student, who threw up old anger, prejudice,
and profanities at a black professor at DCCC,  
when you were unafraid to bring in the Grim Reaper
from medieval morality plays, and let the black-robed angel
of death embrace the doomed like lovers on their last night,
unleashing scenes of dark brutality, violence and rage
—scaring the hell and the heavens out of your audiences,  
when you moved closer to James the Joyce and when your own
stream of experiences and thoughts, your knowledge of history,
your awareness, your deeply seated archetypal fears
began to seep into our own consciousness, weaving
dreams and nightmares, realities and facts
from the theatre of cruelty, also known as life,  
I felt as if you and Steve and Eartha and the cast and everyone
who contributed to the play were sharing
with all those of us who sat in the dark, 
chunks of your legacy, earthy clumps of your testament.    
Patrick, thank you and farewell, all at once.
I shall miss your voice, your disquietude, your wisdom,
and even your impatience that sometimes made me think
of Peter, the Saint with the sword.
Patrick, I shall miss your caring, your willingness to raise
curtains and hope. 
Slán agus beannacht leat.  Fare thee well and blessings with you,
Patrick.  Slán agus beannacht leat.

DCCC, Media, PA
28 Feb./12 Mar. 2008