Angela Kirby on Radio 4’s Poetry Please

If you have nothing better to do on this coming Sunday, May 8th, my mother is having her ‘Father Shaughnessey’ poem read on the regular Poetry Please programme, on Radio Four, which starts at 4.30, and lasts half-an-hour. The Repeat is on the following Saturday, May 14th, at 11.30 pm. I’ve also included the poem below as a sneak preview:

Father Shaughnessey
Together we are studying
The Mystical Body of Christ, all of us,
not least Father Shaughnessey,
floundering. There is ink
on the coconut-matting, the sun
beatifies him with dust and we,
the reluctantly-fasting
Children of Mary,
are making a meal of him,
poor red-faced, red-haired boy,
fresh out of Maynooth
and way out of his depth.

His Adam’s-apple, a stomper,
breaks into a jig, he grows
cack-handed, drops the encyclical,
flushes, sweats but, still game,
lips moving in silent prayer,
he laces string to-and-fro
across the classroom
in a doomed attempt to illustrate
Christ’s place within the Cosmos
which baffles us and leaves him
caught, close to tears, struggling
at the centre of the web.

Oh, Father Shaughnessey, we love you,
we are aghast, we mourn, repent,
unwrap you tenderly.

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