Epiphany – by Lorraine Carey

Thirteen and a half, I’m dragged
out to Mass on the last day
of Christmas holidays. A pariah
among peers, I wait each month
for a declaration of womanly status.

I pray this day for a ripened egg
and a cascading endometrium
to slot right in with their talk of cramps,
gooey liver-like clots and hot water bottles.
One girl declares how she gushes and leaks

through two pads, as if it’s something to boast
about. During the sermon the sudden
pain is overwhelming. Losing consciousness,
I drop to the floor with a thud. As parishioners
prop me up, I try to decipher their distorted chatter

glued to the priest’s nasally drone. Heads turn
in pews when they walk me downstairs,
the air treacly with frankincense and myrrh;
she should have known better
and stayed at home on her first day,
my epiphany in the church toilet
with the broken lock,
my best friend outside keeping watch.

Lorraine CareyLorraine Carey’s poems are widely published, featuring in Poetry Ireland Review, One, The Stony Thursday Book, Gyroscope Review, Rust+Moth, The Honest Ulsterman, Orbis, Prole, The High Window, The Waxed Lemon and forthcoming in Allium and Magma. A recent prize-winner in the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition, she was shortlisted for The Bridport Prize 2022. From Co. Donegal, she now lives in Kerry.