English poetry

Poems in English

New Territory

Sent off to boarding school
At twelve, with a pair of oxfords,
A pair of patents, my sterling
Silver christening rosary
And two dozen name tags stitched
Like drops of blood onto the collars
Of starched blouses, I stare
Down the hall, long and dim,
Slippery from too many waxings.
Plaster statues of the holy family live
Here, in cave-like niches, the Blessed Virgin,
Her face soft and chalky, cheeks
Powdered pink. Everything about her
Is pliable; she is to be our model.
Joseph is nondescript, covered by
A long brown robe. The baby sleeps.
I eye the nuns, black and fluttery,
And my parents, in wool, with fur collars,
Giddy with their new freedom.
I unpack my suitcase and survey
The territory. One iron bed,
One chest of drawers, one slender closet.
A crucifix pierces the white wall.
A dark trunk opens its jaws
To swallow my life.

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Poem New Territory - Geraldine Connolly