River Stars from a Grotto

By Abby Oliveira

Bank-side grotto postcard evening
Inis Fáil                 Eire          no fada.

Woman swigs from a half-bottle of gin
at the Blessed Virgin’s fibreglass feet

an unasked question strains
at the seams of the atmosphere.

Skin of sun-stars glitters on the river
like silver bullion – she will not dive in.
She will not give the father
the satisfaction.

Instead, she prays
for a wishing fountain, a refund
for years worth of dreaming

a lotto ticket     a time-machine     a lorry-driving angel
with a burning scarlet heart     a conversation
that doesn’t orbit Hell. Where else

for a spirit made mad –
a graven image interned
in a bank-side grotto

Mother Mary     ghost in the Trinity
who never smiles or looks the camera in the eye

her painted serenity a silenced scream
palms upturned         in submission
that omniscient shrug:             Ah what’s a girl to do, but?

                                                                and all the river

Woman slurs drunk whispered words
lest the father overhear her

Blessed Mother         pray tell me     did ye
want to get rid of it?

Mary dare not answer back.
Still, her words. Sacrosanct.


Directed by Matthew Thompson.

Reproduced with kind permission of the poet.