Sean Walsh

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…

Memorare

Published on Friday 27th September 2013 by Sean Walsh

 

Back row, centre aisle.

A tangible stillness in an almost empty Church…

Elders moving slowly –

genuflecting, kneeling, standing –

making their way to Calvary,

treading their very own,

plaster statued, Via Dolorosa…

re-living the Greatest Story Ever Told

in reparation for their own sins

and the sins of the world.

 

Jesus is condemned… the weeping women…

Falls the second time… Veil of Veronica…

Nailed to the Cross… Company of thieves…

Sitio, I thirst… Sponge of vinegar…

This day you will be with me in Paradise.

 Stopping, betimes, to nod, whisper, chin-chin –

in-house salutations, parochial palaver –

silhouetted against flickering candles,

framed by altar lights,

passing by the stray soul nursing

a luke-warm radiator.

Pausing to petition the Sacred Heart,

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal,

Saint Anthony, the Little Flower:

‘grace of final perseverance,

‘grace of a happy death…

and so to the Beatific Vision.

Clink clank of copper and silver into Offerings Box:

for the maintenance of the Sanctuary… the new roof…

the Foreign Missions… the poor that are always with us.

But where the crowds, the queues,

the thronging congregations of Yesteryear?

Singing out with one voice a hymn to Mary?

Whatever happened to Saturday night?..

            Red glow over drawn curtains of Confessional:

               invitation to reconciliation… Should I..? Will I?..

Ah, do. Do in the name o’ God.

Open the door, step in,

kneel by a walled Crucifix,

whisper through a grill, darkly,

when the slide is drawn back…

Yes, but how am I going to tell him all?

And will he shoot me down, bawl me out?..

In this day and age? Hardly…

 Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…

It’s a good while now since my last…

Well, I stayed away because…

I, I’m married, Father, and then again, I’m not –

if, if you know what I mean…

She, she went away… ‘Someone else…

Since then I, I’ve had a go at the Commandments –

all ten…

Yes, you could say that: some more than others…

 

Eh, just the one. She’ll be twelve in another wee while…

Oh, no, she’s with me – except the odd weekend…

Ah, the best I can… ‘Not easy. To be honest with you,

I’m not much of a parent, even at the best of times.

And at the worst I, I can be a holy terror.

 

Well, like, coming the heavy… Or letting her down…

Raising my voice – maybe even giving the odd roar –

when things don’t go to my liking. Or I, I’m a bit under

the weather… It’s that more than anything…

 

I mean, if there’s a sin at all on my soul I’d like lifted,

it’s the way I go on at times with my young one…

So I, I’d just like to make the peace with Himself…

I will, Father. I’ll try again…

 He gave me the Rosary. The Sorrowful Mysteries.

‘Commended me to Our Lady. I’m never to forget

that Salvation came to us through a woman… Ha.

Sorry. ‘Sorry, Lord. I, I’ll try… Again? Again…

God. Getting up, falling down… The Agony in the…

Dark in Gethsemani. Or was there a full moon?

Between ominous clouds, gathering?.. Chalice…

I beg, beg you – take it away. Still, not my will…

Our Father who art in Heaven… Thy will be done…

in the Garden… at the Praetorium… on the Cross…

Forgive us our trespasses… as we forgive those…

as I, I forgive… forgive… her. Wife.

There, I’ve said it. And I’ll try –

try the best I can –

to, to mean it…

Turn the other cheek, eh?

Take it, full force, in the face, to the jaw.

Tilt. Incline head in submissive anticipation

of another shock to the system…

There y’are. That’s Christianity for you. Difficult?

It’s just about bloodywell impossible!..

 

Lead us not into… deliver us from… evil.  Evil.

Deliver me, Lord. Please deliver me from – myself.

Free me from this, this wallowing in the past.

Spare me the torture of riveting recall…

Hail Mary, full of… Blessed art thou amongst…

Are you there – or are you on your travels?

Above – or beyond in Yugoslavia?

I, I’m never too sure when I have you,

to be honest. But then, you’re a female.

So I don’t find it all that surprising…

 My mother was always there and me growing up.

When I got home from school or in off the streets

or back from the pictures or after a football match

or, or if I was in a fight with some other gang,

she was there. Always seemed to be – there.

‘Can’t remember a time she wasn’t…

Remember, o most gracious Virgin Mary…

To thee do I come… before thee I stand…

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:

Calling to pray… In sweet tones announcing… Ave… Ave…

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? Hmmm…

Well, I’ll tell you, straight up: they’re not all like you.

Women. Some of them can be right – ah, well, no.

I won’t say it out. ‘Too much respect for you.

‘That anyone who fled to thy protection…

was left unaided…

You came through it all, fairly well, so they tell me.

And now you’re on a direct line to Himself –

easy access, unlimited credit,

excellent equity, buoyant stock – 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 that 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

nothing I can do about it…

Well, you only have to go as far as

the porch if you don’t believe me!

Out there in the street: teenagers

on their way to the Pub, Disco, Rave –

paying scant attention to this

granite structure, dim-lit Presbytery…

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 about my daughter

and protect – save her.

Oh, I know, there’s the nuns and they’re doing

their best, I’m sure, and they’re an extension

of your own good self on earth, doubtless.

 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, Christian Doctrine,

is a far cry from the Penny Catechism…

Oh, Mother of the Word Incarnate…

in thy clemency graciously hear…

‘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 different ways…

Oh, oh. Sacristan swishing down the aisle,

keys ajangle, signalling close-down…

poised to see off the last of the faithful few.

Return to house, flat, home, family…

to another, to others, to no one…

The tea or the cocoa,

the fire and the hearth,

sober survival…

Multi-channel viewing,

wide choice of alternative worlds:

Moscow to Washington, Belfast to Belgrade,

The Gaza Strip to ER, Crime Watch to Iraq,

Match of the Day to the Late Late,

National Geographic to the Movie Premier…

God, I’m hopeless! ‘Can’t even get through

a Hail Mary without going off the rails…

                                                    (- from Jenny One, Two, Three… Amazon Kindle and Smashwords…

                                            Final chapter of my paperback, Notes on the Past Imperfect, Amazon Books.)

Copyright © 2020 Sean Walsh

Lovingly crafted by Design for Writers