Sister Mary Agnes
peers out from the years
of fading sepia.
Round spectacles on a snub nose.
Reflecting in the frames
a century old pose
of hungry mouths
and mud walled huts .
Her face severe
beneath a white wimple.
A faded collage of vinegar and bitters
licking spit off nettles.
An ancient aunt known
in tissue paper
under tinsel trees.
of flowing cursive blue.
Words crest like rising tides
off the softer coast of Africa.
She looms, cuckoo large
among the dark natives,
skin now faded in winter light
But then blended like night
into her shadow raiment
She stands tall
among diminutive people,
blessing them with words, crumbs
tossed among the strutting pigeons.
Granddad told us
before he passed
of his tomboy sister.
A picture woven in colours
Glue and gold
and warm words of flowing grief.
An angel running home late through
corn fields on a summer evening.
Hair a tangled mess of straw and lips raw
from fist fighting and rough kisses.
Her knees a map of damage wrought
on cliff faces and stone beaches.
scorching wind whistling;
a whispered wish,
a bitch, a stain on the family,
He told it all with tears poised to fall
onto cheeks like hers
when you looked close,
a grin, as grim as axle grease.
he told us of her cast,
straight hitting the sweet spot above
the silver shoal.
He told us of the sin of rape
and how she left to trawl in darker seas.
A hoyden lost to God with her smirk
that set boys chests pumping.
And Granddad for that moment looked
displeased with God and all he wrought.