Lindsey Bellosa lives on Clare Island in County Mayo. She has an MA in Writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway and has poems published in both Irish and American journals: most recently The Comstock Review, The Galway Review, Poethead, Flutter Poetry Journal, Emerge Literary Journal and The Cortland Review.
Mother Mary’s Sestina
Angels can say what makes a woman a mother.
Every one of us accepts our crown of thorns,
equipped with love like wood and a hammer.
These tools don’t stop any one bleeding.
Love builds a cross: without relief or reason.
I watched you die; my heart will never resurrect
itself. But you insisted you would resurrect
what was wrong with the world, like a mother
fights for her child. No one can stop or reason
with a star taking its course, or rose growing thorns.
I stood beneath you, unable to stop your bleeding
feeling my heart batter itself like a hammer.
The first time you watched your father hammer
together a table, saw how wood could be resurrected
into another purpose: you were lost to me. My bleeding
body: made for comfort, sustenance, the things that are mother…
they become strange to a boy, like a barrier of thorns.
Your hands were called, making belief into reason.
When they killed you, they said they had their reasons.
They made their beliefs into a cross with their hammers.
I know nothing of this; I saw only your skin torn with thorns—
heard only your voice, its pleas resurrecting
the most basic need in me as a mother:
to wet your lips, to stop your bleeding.
I begged them to let me mop your brow, bleeding,
and your stark cries that called out for a reason.
They laughed as you sobbed for your mother:
as though you weren’t real, as though only a hammer
is real or hope a thing that dies in the morning to resurrect
as an angel or bird or spring flower, determined and thorny.
You believed in this world too: where the path has thorns
but there is a garden, reached and watered with your bleeding.
I know only that the boy from my body could resurrect
my heart with his smile, and that was my reason
for life. This was demolished, carelessly, with hammers
as the body is ripped, carnage of birth to a mother.
What is the world but hopeless and thorny to a bereaved mother?
The fishermen claim your blood—blunt as hammers—
as resurrection. I have only your name, memory as my reason.
Morning of the Boy’s Wake
This morning, sun is pouring into the land
painting walls of houses, church, old castle
and the sea that drinks and drinks,
washing up treasures and horrors in turn.
The sea undulates with waves,
like the unknown limbs of a baby
under its mother’s skin,
meeting the land: brash and blue.
Yesterday we walked with our two sons,
wading through rushes and searching
for new lambs on shaky legs
in their soft, pure coats.
One frolicked near the drain,
where a crow loitered.
Its mother darted—
wild-eyed, bleating to pass us.
Beyond, in the drain: what was once a sheep—
worms, legs splayed in birth,
dirty water and pooled wool.
A lamb’s scull rested by her side.
My boys were born on winter nights.
I pulled them from me: sticky limbed.
Their lives pierce my view,
sharp as yellow gorse.
The landscape doesn’t care; it would swallow them
easily as this distressed animal, whose pleas
sounded into stormy darkness
that drank them without taste.
This morning, the sun cracks like an egg
and daffodils are yellow as paradise.
There is no heaven if this was his home,
and he is not here to see this day.
His mother is, or the shell of her is:
bones, lips that kiss his cold limbs.
My own heart bleats: desperate creature,
crying to bridge distance between itself
and what it loves best.
Death has drowned this for her.
Without it, gaps open into the land:
too deep for flowers or sun.
The land bends into the sea,
slave to its will, as we cry our hopes
into wool-dense darkness.
Morning unveils our losses.