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Terry Collett Jun 2017
Mary undressed
for her Friday bath.

The water was steaming
steam rose
to the off-white ceiling.

She dipped in a foot
withdrew it again.

Feckin' 'ot.

She turned on
the cold water tap.

It cooled down
the water.

She turned off the tap
and put in
a foot again.

That's better.

She climbed
in the bath
and sat down.

Water reached
her small taut *******.

Luk at de sight
av dem.

Two love bites
stained one breast.

Magdalene's work.

She picked up
a pink sponge
and soaped it up.

Washed her
neck, arms,
******* and down
between thighs.

Nuns an' their

Buff an' blister
Thomas an' 'er
ideas for lent.

She wished the nun
would go to holy Rome.

She soaped
her *** standing up.

wud love dis.

She sponge down
with water washing
the soap off.

A love bite on her
right thigh high up.

lipped her
and kissed her.

That time
at Magdalene's
parents' house
while they
were out shopping.

Both naked
on the bed.

Nip as babes.

Mary stepped out
of the warm bath.

She grabbed
a white towel
began to dry herself.

Wish Magdalene
wus here nigh.


Once dried
she stood and gazed
at herself
in the mirror.

Jist loike Eve.

That time
at Magdalene's house
lying abed
with a thousand thoughts
going round
in her head.
Terry Collett Jun 2017
Your da was in a mood
he'd received a letter
from the nuns at school
that you'd been insolent
and had been
punished for it.

Can't understand ya
he said
brought up
a good Catholic
and you behave
like this
I'd give ya
ma hand
but I don't think
it'd be any good.

He stormed out
to the garden
and took it out
on the vegetable bed
with his *****.

Now you've got him
in a mood
and it'll be me
that has to get him
calmed down
your ma said
just because you
want to act
the big lady.

She went into
the kitchen
and banged
pots and pans about
and moaned to herself

You went
to your room
and shut the door
**** the nuns
you muttered
and lay on your bed.

You had Mary
on this bed
a week or so ago
you and she
doing things
that'd make
your da's eyes
pop from his head
and his jaw
dropped like
a dead donkey's tool.

You kissed your arm
pretended it was Mary
she lying there
beside you
her snugly body
close to yours.

the slamming
of doors.
Terry Collett May 2017
I told the priest
I wanted to be a nun.

He didn't smile at me
like Sister Bridget had done
when I told her
as if I’d told her a joke.

Sit down Martha
he said.

I sat down in the room  
in the priest's house.

It smelt of polish
and pipe tobacco.

He had dark curly hair
and blue eyes
and a wide mouth.

He asked me
about my wanting
to be a nun
why and when
I first felt
the calling.

I told him
I loved the Crucified
loved seeing Him
and talking to Him often.

The priest looked at me
his eyes large
like cob-stoppers.

He said
I was too young yet
no religious order
will take a girl of 14.

I will be 15 soon
I said.

He raised
his thick eyebrows
and said
I’d have to wait
until I was at least 16.

**** me I mused
that's too long.

I never said
that to him
just put on
a disappointed face
like I do
if me ma tells me
to make me bed
and tidy me room.

If you have
a vocation
then you are
blessed by God
so you must wait
and study
and pray
he said.

When I crossed
over me leg
and showed
me thigh
he went red.
Terry Collett May 2017
Sister Martha
stopped me
in the corridor
of the school
her features fixed
in a hard gaze.

Girls are not
to run or rush
in the corridors
Mary Macquire
the nun said.

I stood
and gazed at her.

I am late
for my next lesson
I said.

I do not care
you are not to run
in the corridor
she said.

I was going
to be late
as the *******
was going to
keep me there.

I want you
to walk back
to the beginning
of the corridor
and walk to where
I stand
she said.

I sighed
and walked back
to where
I began to run
and walk
towards her.

She stood there
staring at me
her hands hidden
from sight
like some magpie
perched there.

Once I reached her
she said
next time you
come along
the corridor
remember to walk.

I said I would
and she let me go on
walking slow
and not rushing
in case she made me
walked it again.

I never
looked back
I walked past
the holy pictures
on the walls
the statue of the ******
flowers at her feet.

Once I was
out of sight
of the nun
I stuck ******* up
in her direction
and walked on
to my next lesson
now late.

Getting an excuse
in my mind
like trying to explain
the colour of the sea
to one born blind.
girl in eire in 1963.
Terry Collett Apr 2017
Sister Bridget
slammed her ruler
over the palm of my hand
her features cold and stiff
as she did so.

I let no emotions show
in my features.

The sting came
and remained like a stain.

She did it three times
on each palm
then let my hands
fall at my sides.

She stared at me
that Magdalene
is what happens
when you act
as you have
she said
go and sit down.

I walked back
to my desk
and sat down
next to Mary.

I will not have
such behaviour
in my class
while I am trying
to teach
she said.

The other pupils
in class
stared at me briefly
then stared at the front
and the nun who walked
back and forth
in front
of the black board
like a lioness
looking for more prey
to feed her emptiness.

Are you all right?
Mary whispered
leaning close to me
staring ahead to see
where the nun
was looking.

Silly old cow
Mary whispered.

I'm ok
I said
sensing the sting
still there
but keeping
my emotions in check
as I did as a little girl
after my father
had slapped me
in one of his
drunken rages.

I sensed
Mary's hand
touch mine
under the desk
she stroked them.

I wished we were alone
and I could kiss her
as we had
a few days ago
in my room
when my mother
was out.

The nun yakked
on about St Paul
and his voyages
and how
he nearly drowned.

I wished the old bat
would hang herself
with her rosary
or drown out
in some deep sea.
Terry Collett Mar 2017
Martha closed the door
of the side chapel.

Sunlight shone through
the coloured glass
onto the statue
of St Therese
and on the crucifix.

She stared at them both
it was so quiet
she felt she could hear
her heart beating.

She walked
to the Crucified
and touched His feet
with her fingers.

Looking up
she could see
His half closed eyes
looking down at her.

St Therese
looked down
at the floor
eyes unmoving.

Martha kissed
the nailed feet
felt the cold plaster
stood back
looked at His hands
nailed wide
hands making claws
in their agony.

The door opened
behind her
the old nun
who walked with a stick
entered and said
what are you doing
in here Macquire?

Martha turned around
and gazed at the nun
contemplating our Lord
she replied.

Girls are not
to be in here
the nun said
now go.

Martha looked
at the crucifix
and said
see you later
and walked past
the nun taking in
her aged face
as she did so.  

She walked down
the passageway
the nun's clickedy stick
following behind
sounding like one
who was blind.
Terry Collett Jan 2017
The young priest
sat in the chair.

Martha sat opposite
across the desk.

The priest gazed
at the girl,
with a young girl;
he wished the old priest
could have been there.

So how can I help?
He said,
looking away
from Martha,
eyeing the desk top.

Martha stared at the priest;
he was the young one,
white as flour,
in his black gown
and white collar.

I want to be a nun,
she said.

A nun?
He said,
lifting his eyes
to gaze at her.

Martha looked up
at the large crucifix
on the wall
above the priest.

The Crucified's eyes
half closed or half open
depending how you looked,
she mused.

What sort of nun?
The priest said.

An enclosed nun,
Martha said,
not looking away
from the Crucified.

The priest gazed at the girl
whose eyes were staring
above his head.

Do you think you
have a vocation?
He asked.

The nails
in the Crucified's hands
were rusty or painted
a ***** brown.

Of course,
Martha said,
I wouldn't be here
otherwise would I.

The priest looked
above his head
and saw the huge crucifix
which the girl
was staring at.

Have you spoken
to any one else about this?
The priest said.

I spoke to one
of the nuns and she said
to come see you,
Martha said.

The priest lowered his eyes
to the girl: she seemed
serious if a little odd.

I see,
he said,
have you decided
on which order
you wish to join?  

Martha looked away
from the plaster Christ:
not yet maybe the Bendictines,
she said,
staring at the priest
and at his watery blue eyes.

Maybe you should pray
and ask Our Lord
for guidance,
the priest said.

I do,
Martha said,
taking in a slight blemish
in the priest's cheeks.

I been talking to Him,
she said,
for weeks and weeks.
Terry Collett Dec 2016
The old priest
toddles up the side aisle,
sways slightly side to side,
goes past Mary's chapel.

You watch him
from the pews
waiting for confession.

Old Mrs O'Connor's
next in line;
bet she'll be there
for a week or so.

You kneel down
on the knee rest
gaze at your knees.

The priest enters
the confessional,
closes the door;

Mrs O'Connor
lifts herself
from the pew,
wanders into
the confessional
closes the door
after her.

You sit back
on the pew.

The young priest
is down at the altar,
a nun helps him
fiddle with stuff.

Magdalene hasn't come.

What to say?
What not to say?
Bless me Father
I've been having it off
with Magdalene Murphy.

An old codger comes
into the pew,
kneels down
closes his eyes.

You sigh,
kneel down,
close your eyes,
put in a Pater Noster
and an Ave.

The door
of the confessional
the O'Connor bag
comes out.

It is you next,
so rise up,
go in, ready
to spill the beans
of sin.
Terry Collett Nov 2016
Martha's gone home,
Magdalene watches her go
from her bedroom window.

She got a kiss
nothing more
not from Martha,
unlike Mary
who was up for it.

Martha had been fascinated
by the crucifix
above Magdalene's bed,
had climbed on the bed
and touched
the Crucified's feet
(Magdalene had been tempted
to embrace Martha's legs,
but didn't).

Martha's out of sight;
the record player
is silent now,
the Billy Fury LP
is unmoving.

Wish Mary was here,
Magdalene muses,
feeling hot and bothered now;
two empty glasses
sit on the bedside table,
the ashtray has
cigarette butts lying there.

The sky is cloudless.

Her mother comes in
the front gate
carry shopping bags.

Magdalene tidies up the bed
and hides the glasses
under the bed,
and goes down the stairs.

Her mother is in the kitchen,
bags on the table.

What you been up to?
The mother says.

Martha was here,
Magdalene says.

What did she want?
The mother asks.

Talk and listen to music,
Magdalene says.

She's the one
who wants to be a nun
isn't she?

Yes so she says,
Magdalene says.

The mother puts
the shopping away;
Magdalene helps her,
wishing it had been Mary
in her bed
them at it.

The mother sighs
and sits in a chair:
put the kettle on
I need a drink.

Magdalene does
as she's told;
she thinks her mother at 42
is old.
Terry Collett Oct 2016
Do I know Martha?
Sister Ruth said,
of course I do,
Father, why did
you ask?

Father Bede
looked at the nun:
she came to me
in church
and asked me
a number of questions
about Our Lord
and how tall he was
and what colour eyes
and hair he had,
the priest said.

What's so odd
about that?
She said.

Well she also
asked me
that if a boy
should ask her
about having...
he couldn't get
the word out,
not with
the good sister
standing there.

Sister Ruth eyed him:
***? She said.

Yes, that's
that word,
if a boy
asked her
should she
tell him to...
he fumbled
for the word
Martha had said,
but instead said:
go away,
and I was so
that I said yes,
the priest said,
looking at his hands,
not the nun.

Sounds like Martha,
I supposed she said
something less pure?
The nun said.

The priest nodded:
is she all right?
He said.

Well she's not quite
the ticket,
but she's harmless,
the nun said.

She wants
to be a nun?
He said.

So she does,
Sister Ruth said,
but she's as much
chance of that
as me being
Miss World,
the nun said

But she seems
so keen on being
a Bride of Christ
is there no chance?
Father Bede said.

The bishop wouldn't
have her in
this congregation
but who knows
elsewhere they might,
the nun said,
eyeing the young priest
noting his
reddening features
and his fine head
of hair,
then said:
how long are you
here as curate?

He looked at her:
don't know,
until the bishop
moves me on,
Father Bede said.

If you see
Martha again
tell her she'd make
a good nun,
I guess we must not
dissuade her
from a possible
God's calling.

He nodded
and looking out
from the convent
he noticed
rain falling.
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