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Terry Collett Jan 2016
Martha holds
the plaster statue
of the Crucified

and kisses the head
and feels the cold plaster
on her warm lips

taste of salt
on her tongue

holds between fingers
thumb rubbing the head
feeling the beard

the chest and Sacred Heart
holds Him to her breast
tucks Him in closer

mothering Him
or is it other?
the O'Brien boy's a ****

with his touching
and words
as if she would

Mary introduced
he's a good catch
she said(Mary)

touching her
and lifting her skirt hem
lets us see them

he'd said(O'Brien)
she rocks the Crucified
against her

lets Him be near her
His arms crossed
against His chest

one finger pointing
to His Sacred Heart
she kisses His finger

licks His hands
O' O'Brien said

what's the deal
why are you so stiff
with the holding hands

and such
Mary gives us a feel
she walks with her Crucified

to the bed and lies down
on her back
the Crucified held

against her
His eyes staring at her
blue and black dots

what am I to do
with the O'Brien boy?
she whispers

her warm breath
on His plaster head
it's Mary's fault

she will introduce
them to me
and I'm not wanting them

He says nothing
stares at her blankly
hands crossed

and pointing finger
His heart red and crowned
she lays Him

on the pillow
beside her
turns herself

and gazes at Him
what's to do with O' Brien?
she kisses Him

Agnus Dei
she whispers
runs a finger

along His arm
down to His feet
take O'Brien from me

keep him from me
burn his fecking fingers
for the touching

the Crucified stares at her
did He wink
or nod His head?

**** you O'Brien
Martha says
you're as good as dead.
Terry Collett Jan 2016
Mary left the confessional
or kind of sneaked out
as if she'd pick pocketed
the priest's gown

and sat in one
of the church pews
and stared down
at her shoes

Father Joseph seemed
rather quiet after
her confession
no big suggestions

no piles of Hail Marys
or Pater Nosters
or other seemingly
pointless quests

and when she said
about her menstrual cycle
buggering her mind up
so that she did things

she didn't mean to do
he just went mm mm
and she could see
his head nod through

the mesh of the grid
and that thing about
the rumour about himself
(Father Joseph)

and Sister Lucy
was not spread by her(Mary)
but she just happen
to hear it said along

the playground line
the priest had said nothing
about that he seemed
to be elsewhere other than

the dark chair
she looked up from her shoes
and stared at Sister Lucy
tiding the prayer books

on the pews over the way
and wondered if or what
was going on between
her and him or maybe nothing

just girl's gossip as they do
the nun walked on by
eyes downcast
Mary thought about

the penance the priest
had given her for the sins
confessed and contrition shown
(well at least she

seemed contrite)
to read the first letter
of St Paul to the Corinthians
verses 12-21

and pray about what she read
another girl went
into the confessional
and closed the door

it had been dark in there
he sighed a lot
and she smelt a mixture
of pipe tobacco and mothballs

like her da's old suit
brought out
for high days and holidays
she smiled

that thing about the boy
touching her ***
hung in the air
of the confessional

like a bad smell
no mind
she mused
I'm just a good Catholic girl.
Terry Collett Jan 2016
Magdalene enters
the confessional...

the church has few people
either kneeling or sitting...

high windows coloured glass
and a statue of the ****** Mary
by the door...

she closes the door
behind her and kneels...

darkness and smell
of mothballs and peppermints...

a small door is pushed open
in front of the grid
and a shadowy figure
of Father Joseph
appears before her...

bless me Father
for I have sinned
and it has been
(she searches for the last time
she attended confessions)
some weeks since
my last confession
(had it been this priest
or another? she muses)
and I accuse myself
of the following sins...

the priest fidgets
in his seat
and scratches his nose...

she whispers a list
of sins and pauses
and watches his reactions if any...

he waits and coughs and fidgets
and lowers his head a little...

and I have this feeling
these feelings for someone...

the priest looks toward the grid
and sees only her outline...

yes my child? he whispers
leaning closer to the grid...

shall I say about it?
she muses to herself
seeing the priest's nose
against the grid...

feelings inside...

what feelings child?
he asks leaning back a little...

feelings for a girl she whispers
looking at her hands joined
in the semi-dark and sensing
an ache in her knees...

what kind of feelings?
he says hesitantly
his eyes peering at the grid...

I love her and want to kiss her
and hold her and she stops
and stares at the shadowy priest
before her...

he frowns and breathes in deeply
and says a girl?
feelings for a girl?...

she nods and sees
his shadowy figure
gaze at her through the grid
as if he were trying to fathom
who she was...

was it true she asks herself
about him and the nun Sister Lucy?
was what Mary said true?..

for these sins and all those
that I cannot remember
I humbly repent and ask
for absolution and counsel
and penance she mutters
repeating the words by rote...

do you repent?
he says stiffly to her...

she looks at the dim outline
of her knees and she puts
her hands on them
stroking them
wishing they were
Mary's knees there...

do you?
he repeats softer now
and eyeing her outline
wanting to know
who she was...

I want to touch her knees
she whispers
her voice hanging
in the stale air
and she thinking
she shouldn't be there.
Terry Collett Jan 2016
Martha takes the crucifix
(light wooden cross
and well crafted plaster Christ)
to bed with her

snuggles the Crucified
beneath blankets and sheet
looks at Him
strokes His nailed feet

kisses His nailed hands curled
and wonders if He will open
His eyes and stare at her
maybe search her out

and maybe say
keeping me warm counts
as a blessing
but He doesn't

His eyes half closed look down
His lips say nothing
the hands are warming
no longer cold from being left

in the box in the junk shop
as she snuggles down there
she whispers
have you heard that rumour

Mary Moran's been saying?
About Sister Lucy and Father Joseph?
Is it true?
She asks bringing the Crucified's head

close her lips
I mean You would know
if anyone does and well it is
doing the rounds in the girl's toilets

at the moment although
Da says not to listen to gossip
especially about nuns and priests
he says

but is it true?
She asks the Crucified
eyeing His eyes half closed
or open depending

how you look
He says nothing
just silence
except for her stomach rumbling

(she has given up supper for penance)
and by the way that boy
Jimmy O'Brien looks at me
kind of weird

the idjit
as if he'd something
on his mind
I’m not like Mary

with the boys
and touching and such
she kisses the crown
of thorns head

the plaster dark hair
the red lipsticked
Crucified clutched close
to her small breast

eyes half open or closed
at rest.
Terry Collett Jan 2016
Mary Moran can I see you
a minute please?
Sister Agnes said  

Mary nodded and followed
the nun along the school corridor
walked past the statue
of the ****** Mary
(no relation)
and into a small office
where the nun
closed the door after them

sit down
the nun said

Mary sat down
crossed her legs
pulled the hem
of her school skirt
over her knees
and looked at the nun blankly

do you know why
you are here?

you asked me to come
Mary replied
(she hoped secretly)
the rim of her school knickers
into a more comfortable place
unmoving face

the nun sighed
and sat at a desk
and put her hands
into a prayer mode
rudeness and disobedience
the nun said
that's why you're here

Mary looked past the nun
at the Crucified on the wall behind
dark brown wood
suntanned figure
dark nails holding
the hands and feet in place

and rumours of you
spreading rumours
about Sister Lucy
and Father Joseph

what rumour is that?
Mary said
leaving the Crucified
and gazing at the nun

you know
the nun said

how can I know
if you don't tell me
Mary said

the nun slapped the desk top
and said
dont try it on with me young lady
I'm not to be played with

(Mary hoped the nun wouldn't
contact her parents
her da was not in the mood
for bad news right now
and last time the nuns contacted
them about her
he tanned her behind
with his big hand
but that was years ago now
and well she was 14 now
and the hag seemed happy
just to moan so)

rudeness and disobedience?
Mary said
me being such?

the nun nodded her black
and white covered head
yes you Moran
and the spreading
of the rumours

Mary looked at the Crucified again
he hadn't moved
her fingers had sorted
the knickers rim out
to comfortableness

I'm sorry
Mary said
it's my menstrual mood swings
it gets to me and after
I feel so ashamed that I kneel down
in front of the statue
of St Therese and ask
for forgiveness so I do

the nun sat steely faced
her thin fingers joined
forming a kind of church structure

is that so?
the nun said

Mary nodded

then you will see Father Joseph
and confess to him
and see what he says about it
Sister Agnes said
eyeing Mary as she stood
and walked from the room
swaying her small behind

and muttered to herself
there's none so blind
as those that want to be blind
and the girl had gone
an odd smell of perfume
being left behind.
Terry Collett Jan 2016
Martha Maguire sits
in the back pew of the church
cigarette between fingers,

smoke drifting slowly
to the high beams and tiled roof,

her blue eyes focusing on the Crucified
His arms stretched wide
His head lowered
His eyes shut
the skimpy cloth
about His midriff
nails in hands and feet
and wound in the side
a slit of red paint revealed,  

she takes a drag on the cigarette,

inhales deeply holds the cigarette
just away from her lips and
with no effort releases
the smoke in a steady stream
over the pew in front,

the Crucified's skin
has a yellowy sheen to it,

the crown of thorns have
acquired cobwebs and dust,

only her in the church
silence except for distant traffic,

Magdalene had talked
of the priest and one
of the nuns and some
kind of thing going on,

Martha muses
watching the smoke rise,

the young priest not the old codger,

which nun was it?
not St Agnes that's for sure
she'd only *** out of
her thingamajig,

as would most of the sisters
no doubt,

Sister Lucy was it?
maybe can't recall the gossip,

she inhales deeply again
scratches an itch
on her thigh,

Mary Moran and her ways
with the boys
and she only fourteen too
as am I,

she smiles recalling
what Mary said of Brian Brady
and what he tried to do
put your hand in some other
girl's private place not mine
she said she said,

the Crucified hangs in silence
not a word
not a judgement,

some days she's sure His head
lifts and He gazes at her
with an awkward smile,

His eyes half open
the **** thorns pushing
His hair over His eyes,

the door at the far end opens
and the young priest enters
in his black garb
like a young rook
on the prowl,

he genuflects
and makes the sign of the cross,

then peers down towards Martha
who hides her cigarette
out of sight,

the smoke drifting less so
but under the lower pews,

he looks away
goes to the altar
fiddles with things
goes to the tabernacle
and opens the door
and fiddles inside,

she looks at her cigarette,

lowers her head
and takes a swift inhalation,

then sits back up
gazes at the priest
**** arsing about,

the cigarette between fingers
out of sight,

and she thinking
if it was the priest and Sister Luke
and the carrying ons
and what and where if so,

anyway she muses
letting the smoke drift
from her lips
what do they know?

— The End —