The Black Madonna by Attracta Fahy

The Black Madonna

Somewhere there is guilt 
that this is happening to you,
as if your existence was an intrusion
on the world, everything built
on a collective belief that you are fine.

I bound my shame into control,
like when a rubber band is stretched
too far, it snaps.
I kept snapping, stifled my rage
smothered with sugar, then threw up.

Survival meant moulding a false self
into a montage. Pretence is an art.
Distracted from loss, tortured,
I turned everything inwards.

I can’t name all the flowers in my garden,
still, colours reflect some bit of comfort.
It’s true, the vulnerable are always victimized—
now I let everything grow wild, weeds too, and
I don’t need names to know how to love.

Possessed by the Black Madonna,
I made an altar in my garden. We live
on mother, she feeds us, our great
oesophageal snake, the open mouth
of a hungry gut that cannot decide
which to choose; life, or death.

It’s good to have something to pray to,
her soothing blue campanula, alpine
growing from a thread beneath rocks.

Not allowing anyone to see me like this-
I wanted to be seen. Like a robin, anxious
and startled, flies under a bush, then slowly
with trust, eats from your hand,
I too hungered to connect.


Attracta Fahy, Psychotherapist, MAW NUIG ‘17. Winner of Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition 2021. Irish Times; New Irish Writing 2019, Pushcart & Best of Web nominee, shortlisted for: Fish International Poetry Competition 2022, OTE 2018 New Writer of the Year, Allingham Poetry competition both 2019 &’20, Write By The Sea Writing Competition 2021, Dedalus Press Mentoring Programme 2021. Her poems have been published in many magazines including the Crannóg, Stinging Fly, Banshee, Poetry Ireland Review, Honest Ulsterman, Poethead, Orbis, Abridged and several other journals and anthologies at home and abroad. Attracta was a featured reader at Over The Edge Reading in Galway City Library, Cultivating Voices, and read with poet Paul Muldoon and Adrian Rice at The Poetry Salon with the Irish American Society of New Mexico. Fly on the Wall Poetry published her debut best selling chapbook collection Dinner in the Fields, in March’20. Her chapbook was chosen by Poet Kevin Higgins as one of the best poetry books of 2020 for The Morning Star Newspaper. She received an Arts Council Agility Award 2022 and is presently working towards a full collection.

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