Our Lady of Refuge Rathmines

Our Lady of Refuge Rathmines


Peter O’Neill




An old cleaning lady, bowed down by years of service, approaches
The church under the weight of a full bucket of water, passes
The fonts, vulva like, where the original water you wear resides,
Opens a blue door promising mystery and incense and enters into
The history of flagellations, ecstasy and further humiliations!


For here, inside this kingdom, where the fallen man is intricately
Woven into the blood of the lamb, where his burden, the original
Hamlet, or “Desert Storm”, at one with the lepers and all outcast,
The thoroughly accursed and thrice afflicted, and whose
Sacred heart burns through her with spit and thorn…


She, who could fall to her knees if only she had it in her,
But there is no need, for his loving looks lick the very pestilence
From her face, this prince or man god, who is her brother,
While THERE, above the altar, inside the tabernacle, or
Holy grail where the mystical lotus is placed


And which has become for her the bitterest pill to swallow,
It all being wafers and angels now, perverts and priests;
The two words now almost becoming almost wholly synonymous,
Equally fusing Francis with wolves and Anthony with thieves,
Until the hallucinogenic image of Brendan Smyth’s penis,


Lying Bobbitt like on an oyster shell, falls out of the sky
Crashing down onto the broken Magdalenes and corrupted pietas,
For inside this hulk of stone vegetation, where only scarab and
Reptiles now seem to hide, the only real thing which seems to caress
Being Lucifer’s smile—compassion for evil appearing to be so much


More inviting these days—but still, not to be taken in,
She continues with her heavy burden, and closing the door
Behind her, she walks up the aisles, holds out her mop
And by God with such a vigour does she begin to clean the floor.


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