Penance by Annemarie Ní Churreáin

for a girl in trouble 1951




Use this word when you speak of love.


A man of cloth will come.

Your new home is among brides.



the child inside you is the child you dream at night


and when they cut short your hair,

watch the cuts fall


like the soft fur of an animal

held still by threat.


Find a pale rose climbing a wall

and consider yourself


smaller now,

than even a thorn.


In your starched uniform, step into a nameless stream.

Feel the coldness between your thighs.


Say aloud:

‘in this life I am drowning.’



This poem is published in BLOODROOT (Doire Press). Annemarie Ní Churreáin was awarded a Next Generation Artists Award by President Michael D. Higgins in 2016. She has received literary awards from Jack Kerouac House (Orlando), Akademie Schloss Solitude (Germany) and Hawthornden Castle (Scotland). Her debut collection BLOODROOT was shortlisted for the Shine Strong Award 2018.

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