Poetry / Poets

The Theresa Trilogy by Sheila Fitzpatrick O Donnell

Theresa

You were just
A teenage girl
When they locked you away
Theresa

Even though
It seems as if it were only yesterday
My memory mirrors a distance
To our wild youthful summers
When that rustic bridge called us

Beneath the bowed archway
We lapped up the fluorescent sun
Which filtered through the ribcage
Of the waxed railway sleepers

Hours spent in the stream
Just the two of us
And a tinge of creosote in the air
Casting slate stones downriver
Skipping them to the rhythm
Of the rippling water flow
Our laughter could be heard throughout the Rockies

As we paddled you sang
Row row, row, your boat
Gently
Down the stream

Those days are long gone
Theresa
And so are you

The day they took you away

That Saturday
All day I waited
You never came

Something was not right
My instinct told me
So I made my way to your house

I hesitated on the cardinal red polished doorstep
And then called your name
Theresa
Copper tipped fingers
Drew open the door
Your mother

Her jaded feet wore purple
Braids of varicose veins
Almost strangling her naked ankles

And choking from
The sweet Afton cigarette
she was puffing, cried:
She’s in the hospital

I ran home in a panic
To be greeted by the echo
Of the angelus ringing out
Each deafening chime maddened me

As I thought of you
In those long lonesome corridors
Behind walls partitioning you
From the spring of your youth.

My last memory of you

Like an abandoned puppy
You waddled on the busy road
Shoulders bent from the burden of your cross

Red faced, panic stricken
And waving your arms
At drivers ignoring you

I was about to pretend
I didn’t see you

But,

My conscience would not let me
So I stopped the car to let you in,

You recognised me
And helplessly cried
Take me back to the hospital,
Take me home

On the way you told me
How lucky I was, how lovely I looked,
And what a lovely car I drove

As you stroked my jaw
With the back of your gentle hand
It’s only a banger, Theresa,
I nervously joked.

There we were in our late thirties
Parked outside the hospital entrance
And you asked if I remembered the good days
Said you were lonesome

Of course Theresa
Those special days are tucked
Deep within my heart

A tap on the window suddenly brought us back
As two nurses came to your assistance,
You proudly introduced me as your friend
And through tear filled eyes
In the rear view mirror I could see you waving
Before into our own very different worlds
We both vanished.

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3 thoughts on “The Theresa Trilogy by Sheila Fitzpatrick O Donnell

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