Thursday, 3 November 2011


Even our languages fail us,
blasted into silence,
nouns gutted of meaning,
Lie twisted to Mental Reservation,
titles defiled: Father, Athair,
split open
the wormy antonym coiled in its core
blind eye turned
to the rot in its heart
Sanctuary violated
superlatives we counted on torn
from their roots
verbs hard-tempered in fire
spun to cloud by their mouths
We cry out for reformation
for pages of revelations nailed
to cathedral doors
in Dublin, Ferns, Cloyne
They answer with pleas
of innocence in pulpit voices
garbed like toreros in trajes de luces,
steel concealed
beneath silken embroideries.
Our strongest words fall defenceless
as Samson shorn of his hair:
we howl of unspeakable deeds,
peel the skin off our tongues,
burn new adjectives.

© Breda Wall Ryan

Church braced for wave of sex abuse allegations
Breda Wall Ryan has poems in several journals and anthologies. She was shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize 2010.