Philomena’s Revenge

By Rita Ann Higgins

As a teenager
she was like any other,
boys, the craic,
smoking down the backs.
 
Later there was talk
she broke things,
furniture and glass,
her mother’s heart.
 
‘Mad at the world,’
the old women nod,
round each other’s faces.
 
But it was more
than that
and for less
she was punished.
 
That weekend
she didn’t leave a cup alone
every chair hit the wall,
Philomena’s revenge.
 
Soon after
she was shifted
and given the shocks.
 
Round each other’s faces
the old women nod
‘Treatment, treatment
they’ve given her the treatment.’
 
These days
she gets on with the furniture,
wears someone else’s walk,
sees visions in glass.
 
She’s good too
for getting the messages;
small things, bread and milk
sometimes the paper,
 
and closing the gate
after her father drives out,
she waits for his signal
he always shouts twice,
 
‘Get the gate Philo,
get the gate, girl.’