As the Siarsceal festival approaches, which celebrates the River Suck, we continue a series examining the nature of the river with Glenamaddy-based poet John Malachy Raftery. By following the Suck, the working poet thinks himself into the mindset of his forbears. Even if their lives were ‘nasty, brutish and short’, their natural wisdom was immense, as expressed in Roscommon’s rich trove of prehistoric heritage. Forbear Fourteen thousand forbear generations down to here and me, Could it be that most of those could scarcely see Much beyond their noses, brutish, nasty, so short, Rigours of survival, all reflections to abort? Dying young but breeding younger in needy caves, Skins and flints and bones betokening blunt hunger craves, Propagation huddles to seed the line ‘gainst raging gale, Big brained species wingless, vertebrates of mythic tale. Field-patterning in stone or earth as bear and wolf laired free Wild yelp distanced diligently from domesticated snort, Ghostly spirit of the fire, the wind and hill and tree, Augured well or ill in turn, prehistory’s last resort. Winter Solstice sun stone-shaped salvation-assuring graves, The quick there quickly gone from lives too frail by far to wail, Feel woe or even quietly weep to sleep, lumbering slaves Chained to the long night, dark days break but to nail. And in that night, slumber only of disturbed and pale degree Nightmarish watchfulness of outspoken frightened raves, No audience outside their fort that could comprehend a plea For simple peace, fight or flight reflex twin-blooded waves. But still, in some short-sheltered respite lee, Miracle of miracles brought forth a Holy Grail Of sweet consciousness, overbrimmed by undreamt glee, Astronomical projections of grandest wisdom scale. Bleak necessity mothered then inventive restless heart, Ruthless quest for meaning soars up and Sungod braves, Rude science roughly underpinned by intuitive effort dart, Circumvents cruel Nemesis, existence purpose saves. Thus here and now must we exist to make rounded retort, To nihilism with its trail of failures sour and stale, Countless generations dense inspirations calm impart To leap in song skyshore to shale, to earth, forbearance hale.