For foster mother Eileen Sheerin
Back when the collar and the wimple were law,
when you didn’t cross the cassock or the habit,
she stood her ground. When she’d meet the Cheshire-cat
nun in town, she’d nod-nod-nod, then carry on
about her business—put down a few pounds
on that grand set of china in Joe Feeley’s,
pick up an extra roll of wallpaper
for the end room or a few balls of wool
for that Aran jumper. When the Head Nun
wanted to send me, in my 14th year, to the doctor’s
house in Kilbeggan, to house-keep, she told her
she had work around her own house—Oh, I’ve windows to
wash, walls to paint, Sister.
But devil a window I washed that summer, my sun-soused
days spent traipsing out the Swimming Pool Road
—towel and togs under my arm—my two-and-a-half pence
tucked in my pocket, plus a little extra for the requisite
cream bun in The Oasis on the way home.
When the Head Nun again wanted to dispatch me
(despite my protestations) to my parents’ home,
she assured her she’d deliver me—oh, I’ll drive her myself,
Sister, after our holiday in Butlin’s Mosney.
Not a bit of her—she kept me under her red coat, in her
chalet, by the boating lake and the sunken gardens.
And when I aged out of the orphanage and was released
into her care—warned, mind you, not to sponge off her
generosity, to soak up my secretarial studies (be a quick
brown fox, not a lazy dog)—she did what any good
mother would do when her pup is hurt by word or world:
put her foot on the clutch, shifted gears, pulled over to the
side of a quiet road.
All rights reserved 2014 Connie Roberts
Site by Eileen McKenna