‘Dereliction of Duty’

by Patrick O'Brien

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Copyright 2012 © Gelfling

A Drowning Child:

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In her review of Undercover, the three-part television documentary featuring this writer, Diana Wichtel from the New Zealand Listener (*) wrote:

“The moral ambiguities of undercover work are revealed to be positively Byzantine — but the most terrible moment goes to Patrick O’Brien. He talked about the day at a beach when he didn’t go to the assistance of some distraught parents who were attempting to revive their drowned daughter. Trying to save her might have blown his cover.”

That evening I wrote a short poem, some blank verse. It was thirty-seven years ago this month, and, while the paper it was written on has long been lost, the words and memory will remain with me forever . . .

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A drowning child interrupted
proceedings at the beach
today
A crowd of nosey kids
and gawking adults gathered
to watch her die
Afterwards,
we got on with our sunbathing

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(*)  Review available here in PDF ~ “Secrets and Lies”
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