Mother, as a Child

This is the first of my Holy Week reflections. When the thoughts found their way to paper,  I wasn’t certain that it would be posted, but rather kept in a collection of personal scribblings.  Some of the words may be hard, even obscene, but isn’t that the reality of life? The ugly and the unsanitary are very much a part of this Holy Week. 

Ultimately,  I chose to place it here in your trust.  

My mother as a child;
A poor Irish schoolgirl with one
hand-me-down uniform,
threadbare socks,
and shared underwear among the
smaller siblings.
There were never enough socks.
This was how she measured her days.
The cold was bitter
on the island.
Ice crystals formed on the windows
as wind blew off the bay,
swept in by the ocean,
chilled by the Grand Banks.
Those long winters were forever
A tiny salt box that housed so many
hungry mouths,
bore the violent sou’westers
but provided little
shelter from
the battering of her soul.
She walked to school, no matter.
There’s comfort in repetition
going to, coming from
even when dread sinks deep in the gut.
Profound shyness and trauma
of daily fears
weighed down the self-worth where
there was none.
She shivered and wet herself
nearly every day
on the to and the from.
What she remembered most vividly
on those lonely walks was
the smell of urine
Doubting if a loving God
would ever forgive
what she was,
resigning herself to Hell;
the place where she knew worthless,
piss-soaked children go.


10 responses to “Mother, as a Child

  1. This would be some of your best. Not sure how to say something positive about something so sad, but it is vivid writing with not a wasted word. Love YOU!


  2. I am so grateful you are doing this, Elizabeth. This one brought the smart of tears and even recognition, even though my story is nothing like this in its detail. But the emotions? Yes, those are familiar. Even middle-class kids from happy homes have image problems and are deeply aware of their inadequacies. Lovely seems a strange word for so much sadness, but lovely it is.


  3. Extraordinarily powerful.


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