Fred Johnston – A poem for You

fred johnstonFred Johnston (born 1951) is an Irish poet, novelist, literary critic and musician. He is the founder and current director of the Western Writers’ Centre in Galway. He co-founded the Irish Writers’ Co-operative in 1974, and founded Galway’s annual Cúirt International Festival of Literature in 1986. (


A poem for You

Do not tell me my name
Only my tongue is strong enough to carry it

Do not open my door
My heart alone has the key

Do not measure my acre
Only my stride is long enough

Do not look over my wall
Only these eyes can see that far

Do not stare at my children
For only my eyes can see them

Do not plough my fields
For my earth will not yield to you

Do not harm my tree
For it is watered by my blood

Do not wound my flesh
For the mark is inscribed on your soul

Do not offer words to humble me
For no language can drown out my shout

Do not tell me where I live
For I know every inch of my own flesh

Do not call me invisible
You cannot see the wind when it blows

Do not offer me vinegar for wine
Nothing is as bitter as the taste in my mouth

Do not offer me sand for bread
For I will make bread even from sand

Do not tell me who I am
For I am written in the book of the world.

*{Written for the recent visit of the Lajee Dabka Dancers to Galway. The troupe comes from the Aida refugee camp in Palestine.}

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