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Relatives Assisting
A room in the house
and a seat in the car to Mass,
that was the promise made in wills
to look after those
who did not travel,
but chose instead
to ride High Nelly bicycles to church
on Sundays, where they knelt
in the women’s aisle, and listened
to visiting missioners thunder about
the sins of the flesh, and how
Queen Elizabeth had died,
rolled in a ball in agony, screaming
for the one True Church. It was too late,
of course, and it was a good feeling
for even a little while to be pure.
The Child of Mary medal was a consolation
and would travel with them
to the grave. And in the room guaranteed
you could ‘prepare your black’
and save shillings from sales of egg and butter
for porter at your wake.
‘Relatives Assisting’,
they called you on the forms.
You had no acres, no lovers, no children,
but you had
what was more important,
a room in the house
and a seat in the car to Mass,
and in the meantime,
your High Nelly bicycle
and your prayers.