Audrey Molloy was born in Dublin and spent her formative years in rural Wexford. Itchy feet led her to Sydney, where she works as an optometrist and medical writer (and mum to three spirited young kids). Her work has appeared in Australian Poetry Journal, Offset Arts Journal, F(r)iction Literary Journal (USA), Grieve Anthology 2016 and Poetry d’Amour Anthology 2015 and 2016. She was recently short-listed for the Over The Edge New Writer of the Year 2016.

Jigging for mackerel at Ballyconnigar

The boys are older, but not the sort to make us nervous; the skipper, a local man, quiet and clever, offers his hand when we swing our legs over. Blue paint

flakes like fish-scales off the hull’s thick steps. Piled in the bow, the yellow oilskins are best pulled on before she’s movin’. Glad that Mam insisted on my

Icelandic jumper, I study the rods—ours flimsy and brightly-coloured, theirs thick, black, well-handled. Ragworm, captive in a square margarine container

between our feet, draw blood from tender fingertips. Dad ties a short line and hook straight onto my lead weight; it lies on the seabed while we count stars—

a sideboard of silver trays and cups at home is testament to his angling talent. Flounder fall for our ruse; cheap protein when money is tight, they’ll pack our

freezer-chest for winter, served up until even Mam can’t bear the sight of their twisted faces. Shiny spoons catch the convex eyes of silent schools, strings of

fake-hued feathers lure, like gaudy parrots, their hidden hooks hazards, not just for fish. The boys find them first. Mackerel fling themselves in twos and

threes at the feathers jigged below the surface; navy blue, twilight-striped, slapping in the hold.  My sister catches two on one lure, a hook in each mouth.

Small hands (braver than mine) wrestle them off, then drop the line back in. On the return, a breeze whips back fringes and hoods; light wriggles on the

black water between us and the moon, gibbous as the nibbled apple in my oilskin pocket. Dad holds up two big ones, says Who needs sons?

Woven in the bone

And all this time, was anyone keeping account?

Light from Light, true God from true God,

Child-years lost drawing pictures of a man riding

Begotten not made, in one being with the Father,

into town on a donkey, or a menagerie in a manger,

Grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom

altar-side hours bearing girl-guide flags

All that I am, all that I do,

with my brown bomber-jacket stuck to my back,

All that I’ll ever have, I offer now to you,

hunger pangs of daily mass in Lent before school,

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

the happy pulling-asunder of roses

Sweet sacrament, we thee adore,

for strewing in Corpus Christi processions,

O make us love Thee, more and more,

the coughing-quiet outside the confessional,

Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church

half-hours on hard pews thinking up sins,

And to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned,

sleepless nights feeling guilty for them,

Through my own fault in my thoughts and in my words,

decades spent on rosaries of penance,

In what I have done and in what I have failed to do

the tedium of the blessing of throats or pets,

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,

the click of the thurible in benediction,

but only say the word and I shall be healed

the incense sweetly coating my lungs,

I leave you peace, my peace I give you

afternoons in the curate’s house counting coins

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

into small stacks, whole evenings standing in a fug

In giving to all man that we receive,

of damp sweaters learning hymns like heavy blankets,

And in dying that we are born to eternal life

practice in front of the mirror for a letter from St Paul

Jesus taught us to call God our Father,

to the Ephesians, teenage Sunday Masses stealing a glimpse

And so we have the courage to say, for the kingdom

of you half-naked in the bas-relief of the Stations.

The power, and the glory are yours, now and forever

Christ, you and I are no longer on speaking terms;

forsaken, not forgotten,

in every cell of my being, you are woven.