By Donna Smith


Your tatty red rucksack abandoned in the hall,

spilling notes for an exam 

you will never sit.

A moment frozen in time, forever, for you.

Yet the clock continues to tick for us, 

marking your absence


and the eternal curse of the living: 

to always wonder if more might have been done.

Did we muddle your misery 

with your smiles?

Was your desperate cry for help unheard,

the sound drowned in the cacophony of living?


And as we shuffle - uncomfortable, dazed, numb -

in our kitchen meant for five students,

not four,

your mother's heartbreak fills the room 

with stifled sobs 

and a clinking teaspoon.



Donna Smith lived in Ireland for 11 years (Dublin, Meath and Cavan) before moving to Shropshire, England in 2013.  Her writing has been published in the UK, Ireland and USA.  This poem was inspired by the 'Send Silence Packing' campaign - 131 rucksacks were placed on the lawn at Trinity College Dublin, representing the average number of college students lost to suicide each year in Ireland.