‘Marian’ © Joe Canning 2016. All Rights Reserved.

© Joe Canning 2016. All Rights Reserved.

She was a small woman, a chain smoker
Hair always the same, an institutionalised crop.
Aware that she walked free in the wide world.
Free, but inside, trapped in silent trauma.

Haunted by echoing corridors and rattling beads.
Crucifixes strapped to the waists of her torturers.
Other girls like her in the hallways of the insane,
but the insanity lay in those brides of Christ.

Marian, a child of Leitrim, a forsaken one.
Abandoned to singers of hymns; women in the
control of profiteers that bowed to bishops;
that knelt before priests and took Communion.

Four decades saw her escape those dormitories.
Out of their clutches she was learning to smile.
A cigarette calmed her. She was adapting to freedom.
Ten a day, maybe twenty, but no one complained.

She became a carer soon after that, comforting others.
She knew how to care, she had seen the other side.
She nursed my mother, they argued but laughed later.
Parkinson’s had no respect for mum, Marian had none for it.

She never missed Mass, “There’s good priests too, she’d say”
She loved Ma’s house, she loved her own little place too.
She missed Ma when Ma left us, Marian cried for days.
She retreated to the bungalow of her world, a bit lost.

She smoked a bit more than but she enjoyed every puff.
She too left us soon after that. Marian was going home.
We took her to Leitrim and laid her in the brown soil of Kinlough.
A searched out family came to sprinkle some earth on a lost sister.

Marian was a soul that suffered at hands devoid of compassion.
She will have forgiven those zealots by now… It was in her nature.
No doubt she will have a higher chair than them, she deserves that.
Yes, she deserves that.

Photo: Glenade Valley towards Kinlough, Co Leitrim

Glenade Valley towards Kinlough

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