A Silent War - Homefront Prayer (I.S.L.)




Belfast, University of Atypical





07min 08sec







Northern Ireland Screen's Digital Film Archive


Hands That Sign, Jane O'Brien, Ross Thompson

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Northern Ireland Screen, Ross Thompson

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Homefront Prayer by Ross Thompson, written in Bangor during 2020 Lockdown  

Thank God for nurses weeping in break rooms:
      almost broken after a double shift, 
      cheeks striped red from elasticated strips 
      on masks designed to minimise the risk 
      of this deadly disease yet still in fear 
      that this thin armour is not sufficient 
      to safeguard the health of their families 
      yet with no hesitation delivering
      priceless sympathy and medication 
      to their patients in the direst of straits. 

Thank God for the doctors going over
      the top, these modern day heroes 
      marching towards ground zero or bracing 
      groaning surge tents with meagre equipment 
      or facing the scythe with dwindling supplies 
      - terrified, no doubt, for their own lives yet 
      displaying grace under pressure: diamonds
      forged in the darkness cast by a crisis, 
      ships made sturdy by weathering the storm, 
      their only directive… to do no harm. 

Thank God for carers unseen and unknown
      who may leave the ward yet bring their work home, 
      scrubs soaked in sweat, skin rubbed raw by foaming 
      soap, bloody, knackered, bone-bruised and battered, 
      unable to unshackle an anchor: 
      the weight of a life reaching its flatline. 

Thank God for pharmacists dispensing meds
      to the infirm with all kinds of ailments, 
      for the skilful fixing ventilators, 
      for agents of faith prevailing with cool 
      heads and warm hearts at bedsides of those lost 
      in dim valleys of shadow and frailness, 
      for those comforting the bereaved in bleak 
      vales of sadness and bitter grief, for 
      those braving bins brimful of glass and sharps, 
      for those in canteens preparing hot meals, 
      and further afield, outside hospital 
      walls, for those still reeling from when the globe 
      suddenly juddered yet still unafraid 
      to fetch provisions for vulnerable 
      sisters and brothers locked inside their homes 
      like Rapunzel, for all of those hoping 
      collateral damage is minimal, 
      parents barely coping with digital 
      schooling reluctant children yet faking 
      they are all-knowing, for the liminal 
      and isolated, daunted and lonely, 
      edgy and frustrated, the vincible, 
      the defeated, those buoyed by key workers 
      keeping essential services ticking 
      over, for farmers maintaining supply 
      chains, for pilots, seafarers and kindly 
      weight-bearers, for first responders and those 
      lodged in the doldrums, for those with their 
      backs towards the gallows, for those on fixed 
      term contracts and those on furlough, for those 
      facing foreclosure, for the rose-tinted 
      and pessimist, for the country’s lifeblood, 
      the salt of the earth, the grain in the wood, 
      the fire in the hearth, the bow in the rain, 
      the bringers of joy, the easers of pain. 

Thank God for those who answer when we call.

Thank God for each one. Thank God for them all.

Shot List

Homefront Prayer by Ross Thompson

ISL translation and performance by Jane O'Brien

Filmed in University of Atypical by Stuart Calvin

Produced by Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell for Northern Ireland Screen

A Silent War Creative Producers: Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell & Ann Donnelly

Funded by the Department for Communities through Northern Ireland Screen



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