art

Magdalen Laundry

home (1)

The now empty halls
a Dublin asylum
on Lower Leeson Street
you did what they said
carry the “fallen”,
Keelia, birthing a daughter
treated as defiled.
1941, aged 16,
there was no time to say goodbye

behind monastic walls
a bedroom, a cell
iron-barred windows
in each dream walking along:
“Ma, where am I going?”
but always wake up crying
bear pages of thick ledgers:
“You disgraced us!”
Unpaid workhouse

shapeless, long brown dresses.
The sound of hand-scrubbed linens
if you listen you can hear
the abbess and the nuns

on cold winter mornings
face shrouded in black veils
girls marching to six o’clock Mass

beyond, the ordinary, everyday world.
Pruning of an old mulberry tree.
Shrews, and lizards,

the nameless.
I was known as number 26.

 

these words by Ilona Martonfi were inspired by the colour of Alison Gildersleeve