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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

St. Knut's Day, a poem in response to The Mother and Baby Homes Report


Candles Cathedral Pixabay

St. Knut’s Day

‘What about your poor mother’ ‘Your child will be a bastard’ ‘What about the neighbours’ ‘Couldn’t you have it adopted?’ – The things they say, Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, 12 January 2021


This is a morning after a dark night of the soul,

the release of The Mother and Baby Homes Report,

a difficult to find words for account of suffering women

and children in 20th century Ireland, though it is the job


of the poet to go inward, my silence and sadness simmer.

And you cannot say oh, but it didn’t really affect you

our way to sweep it all under the carpet, that unspoken

thing in the corners of childhood, that wondering


why people were the way they were, that cover up

and put a shine on the gloomiest of weather.

We prayed in the church, looked the part. Some still do.

The Navan Road takes on new meaning, St. Patrick’s


a place hushed up aunts went to, mothers of adopted babies

seeking their mothers, went to. Tuam babies are forever crying,

caught in a cold vacuum, a mass, an unmarked grave.

Even animals look after their young, someone said.


There must be a saint’s name for every day of the year.

The Christmas Tree is down, decorations and tinsel stored.

To understand our place in time we must listen to history.

We must show light to scars and tears to wounds.


Some bird sings chat chat chat on opening the window

to swirling dawn air come in to stir the room

with a new year, fresh faced. When done, she swishes her cloth

and races back out into countryside to find spring.


Orla Fay

In Sweden St. Knut's Day marks the end of the Christmas and holiday season. It is celebrated by taking out the Christmas tree and dancing around it. Nowadays, the feast is mainly for children. - Wikipedia

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