I live in Dublin, Ireland. Sometimes. Most times I live in my head, quite unaware of my surroundings – if you know what I mean… If you succeed in tracking Sean Walsh, please let me know, ok? I've been searching for him for years…
There was this shrine, as I recall.
Oh, well known it was, locally…
We walked the three miles, there and back.
Out the country. ‘Summer’s day…
Me still in short trousers,
‘boots that needed mending.
Six miles in all. A killer…
‘Knelt for the Rosary.
Nudging, gawking around,
stifling a giggle…
Every bead a penance…
‘Grass trodden underfoot by previous pilgrims.
The tree and the hollow,
the rock and the glade,
the stream where we filled our bottles
to carry home.
Our salute to you wafting out
on the warm, still air:
Ave… Ave… Ave Maria…
The Lourdes statue marking the ledge
where you appeared… whenever it was,
to whoever it was… reputedly.
We had you to ourselves in those days –
before you took off on a world tour…
Holy Mary, Mother of God…
And mine. My mother. Are you? Really?
You came through it all
with hardly a scratch,
so they tell me.
And now you’re on a direct line
easy access, unlimited credit,
excellent equity, buoyant stock –
in-in-interceding for us…
All I’m asking is that you put in
a good word for me –
hoping you’ll understand,
even if He doesn’t –
so when the time comes
I won’t be caught on the wrong foot…
And look, I know you’re inundated
with all sorts of prayers and petitions.
But I’d ask you – as a special favour –
to look out for my wee one.
She’s heading for the rapids and there’s
little I can do about it…
Well, you only have to go
up the town if you don’t believe me!
Teenagers on their way to the party,
pub, disco, rave…
chattering, shrilling, giggling…
hardly aware of the elder world
And in no time at all my wee one
will be one of them:
on-stream, ’full spate…
in tow, keeping up…
matching their form…
cool, laid-back, with-it…
Maybe even a leader?
In thrall to her peer group.
So please, will you keep an eye on my Jenny?
God knows, she could do with a bit of mothering.
And why not? Ah, now! ‘No better woman…
Do. Oh, please.
Put your mantle round my daughter
and protect – save her.
Oh, I know, there’s the nuns
and they’re doing their best, I’m sure.
But they seem to have their hands full
and they stream, unmercifully,
and if you don’t mind me saying so,
their idea of Instruction,
is a far cry from the Penny Catechism…
‘Years ago, my wee one,
holding my hand, looking up at me:
‘Only the two of us, Dadsers!..
To tell you the truth, we’re both a bit
lost in our own ways…
When I think of it! ‘Looking back…
This wee girl, holding my hand,
clinging to me…
waiting, wanting – oh, longing! –
to be molded.
And I, I paid her scant attention.
‘Thinking, ages before she…
years and years yet a growing.
Plenty of time to, to…
More fool me…
Dear Jesus, I’m hopeless!
‘Can’t even say hello to your mum
without going off the rails…