Joan Henry


St. Patrick's:
We know, snakes.

But what St Patrick's really did was banish fear,
the fear that crawls out of small spaces,
coiled, ready to strike:

The fear of being poor,

Of drunken fathers and,
mothers, who love helplessly.

Of control
by a power foreign to our spirit:
husbands, lovers,
dictators, whether governmental or homespun,
of a religion that isn't a " becoming".
Of being "shanty",
of flour sack dresses,
and missing buttons,
of no shoes for school.

The fear of the devil,
not the trespasses, but the test.
Of hell,
of rotten potatoes and a ship full of vomit and shit.

The fear of no hope,
if we let it.

Hope puts the snake back in the hole,
slithering down beyond the sea of dreams,
banished for the present.

Hope fills up the empty spaces.
Hope is Heaven if we let it in.

A child's laughter,
a baby's smile.


Jean Henry