26 January 2003 Lansing, Michigan
Cutha, slim girl with long red hair
and sparkling green eyes, runs quick
among apple trees blooming thick
with white blossoms in golden flair
of sunlight beaming through leaves
that flicker in gentle breezes from lake
where boats bob on singing waves.
Cutha feels terrible fear in her heart,
watching men in boats snaring fish
with silver hooks on ends of lines
woven from feather hair of dragons,
so she wraps white cotton robe tight
around her body and huddles down low
among blueberry bushes by small creek.
Cutha stares at small rippling stream,
remembering event last summer
when she came to fishing lake shore
and called name of her father Cuthin
because her mother Thima returned
from seven days in secret forest cave
with other women during full moon.
Cutha weeps trying to forget vision
when her father was shot with arrows
and fell backward into deep blue lake
and sank away into darkness of death,
burbling blood, devoured by giant fish,
so she lies curled and tries to sleep,
sinking into restless lethargy of pain.
Cutha shivers in sudden evening breeze
blowing cold over her pale white skin
so she rubs her eyes that open wide
to see dark shrouding forest of dream,
and then she realizes she was asleep
for hours, so she gropes through gloom,
trying to return to hut of weeping mother.
Cutha stumbles onto main road to town
and shrieks at flash of two bright lights
when parish priest Father McCartney
sees beautiful girl running late at night
so he stops and chases her into woods
where he rapes her among twisted trees,
then leaves her weeping on dead leaves.
Cutha wanders woods as her belly swells,
refusing to go near red brick hall of homes
where her mother lives with seven kids,
and hopes to birth child so she can destroy
its flesh and prevent its lusting evil soul
from growing into a man with hard hands.
Cutha creeps toward farm house kitchen
where old woman shrieks at sight
of wild forest girl with flaming red hair
so she calls priest Father McCartney
on telephone who arrives with police
and they arrest girl and take her away
screaming while villagers stare in shock.
Cutha opens her eyes to see car arrive
at large cement hall with iron gates
and nuns strip her white cotton robe
and make her wear gray flannel skirt,
then Mother Paul snarls into her face,
"Forget your name and your whole family,
for now you are number Seventy-Eight,
so shut your mouth and obey my words."
Cutha works twelve hours each day,
washing, ironing, and folding clothes
at Magdalene Laundry prison for girls
hidden behind glass-jagged cement walls
somewhere on lush green hills of Ireland,
slaving though pregnant till her child
wiggles screaming from her open womb
and she faints sweating in fever of death.
Cutha walks smiling among apple trees,
helping her father gather apples in baskets,
and giggles while he sings old Irish ballads
about Selkie maids, sweet lovers who argue,
and noble heroes fighting for true freedom
in ancient mist that swirls over sacred Tara hill
Cutha emerges from swirling silver mist
to walk with her Mother, Marya Magdalena,
who whispers, "You are my darling Mermaid
with flaming red hair, sign of our sacred heart,
for you are daughter of Jesus Rex Judaeorum
who saves his people by breaking them free
from brutal slave prisons and takes them away
to live in caves of Galatia safe from knives
of killers who kidnap and rape precious girls."
Cutha wakes in Magdalene Laundry prison,
muttering, "Who will save me from this hell?"
but she works twelve hours a day for years,
freezing in winter and baking in hot summer,
forty-three years before she falls over dead,
found one afternoon by old grim Sister Peter
who drags her body and dumps it outside
on slag heap for Sister James to burn later.
Cutha lies broken and bloated and fat
on heap of trash under cold winter skies,
staring at nothing with hair turned gray,
when police park cars and enter prison
to discover terrible conditions of labor
where thousands of women work, forgotten,
without pay, locked away because of rape
or flirtation hidden away from eyes of men.
Cutha walks reborn in her living daughter
Catherine who works downtown Dublin
in advertising agency, designing photos
and stories for popular fashion magazine,
and frowns as she sips cappuccino with friends
who discuss recent revelation of abuse
of young women imprisoned to slave
all their lives without hope or love or faith
in grim cold prisons of Magdalene Laundries.