Gaia Holmes’s ‘Blessed’

 
Blessed
Gaia Holmes
 
Your grandmother
had tins full of prayer tags
and soft Garibaldi biscuits.
She kept gossip like hymn sheets
folded into the back
of her breeze-block bible,
kept a row of icons
above her fireplace
with garish hearts
like rotting plums,
reserved the best bone china
for priests, saints
and other visitations.
 
If you were lucky, upon leaving
you’d be blessed with a dry kiss
pressed upon the brow,
otherwise you’d leave
drenched in a frenzy of spit,
Hail Mary’s and Holy water.
 
You said I’d done quite well,
made a good impression
but I could tell by the way
she edged her way
around my name
and how damp I was
when we said goodbye
that she thought
I’d burn in Hell.

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