The Virgin Mary Is Crying

I am thirteen and leaving our house as breath haws out my mouth. When I breathe in hard me nose burns. Hands are dead, fingers tender as if they have been burnt.
Hunched shadows hit the work trail; they close gates gently, afraid to wake their bairns. Frost on the roof flickers like broken cheap fairy lights. Joy’s a million miles down the road: An eternity away from me.
Summer has never been. No sun touched this pavement. I could throw myself on the ground; feel the black cracks with pouches of water gathering in question marks. I see from a distance of sixty years and join the boy I was on his way to Mass.
The church is still. The world is revolving but this place is somehow frozen. The pew imprints my knees as I look to the Virgin Mary. Her statue shines in the off-cream light, fighting against the church’s dappled windows. She wears a white dress, trimmed in ice-cold blue and is staring at me as I examine the floor, looking for God inside me. Mam would have said, “What you looking for?”
I watch the Virgin Mary’s watery look. I wanted to climb on the little rock where she stands in bare feet, use my hankie to dry her tears. There is only me in the cold church and those tears.



Tom Kelly is a north-east of England writer. He has had eleven books of poetry, short stories and a play published in as many years. His new collection This Small Patch has recently re-printed by Red Squirrel Press.