I don’t care what you say
about Sheila Shea,
her teeth
rotted out,
her hair
silver gray.
Say anything you like,
“She is skinny as a rail
and damn
she was pretty
in her day.”

Poor old Sheila
no pity for her now,
a few rough sticks
over her bending head,
the farm
almost down
to nothing
never had a man
to work the chores
though Sheila
could sow half the fields
of Kerry (by her own
hand) in a day.

Age comes too fast
being alone.
Sheila sat
for hours
watching the sea
come just so far
before turning back
into itself.

You can talk about Sheila
even here, as she waits for the nurse
to dispense the injections.
Tell her to her soft rippled face,
her eyes wet stones
from Ballinskelligs Bay.

Her hands folded calmly
around themselves.
Tell her she was a fool
all these years
for closing out the world.

I don’t care what you say
about Sheila Shea
as she bends her gentle head
away from you now.
Patient Sheila
smiles, her eyes
turned down, shy as a girl
looking at her hands.

She wants to hide
the wild blackberries
she has gathered from the fields,
she wants to hide their sweetness
against the floral pattern
of her tattered frock.

– Published in Negative Capability Marylou DiPietro