Nails, by Lorraine Carey

The earth took them back,
not in three foot coffins
but wrapped in browning rags
like slabs of meat. Tiny frames
thrown into clay, marked by
nails in a wall, a haunting
of winters and soft, summer rain.

Milk filled breasts tingled,
leaked as tears fell, dried hard
and stiff, their crusted aprons soured
the air, the smell a pungent
reminder of their sins.
Their raw fingers, their cracked skin
bled from days and nights in
laundry cells, as nails
rusted red on the wall.
No granite headstones, nor simple
wooden crosses for the babies pulled
out, dumped with the placentas
they preceded.
Thrown in like broken dolls by those
who strolled floors in starched
white habits,
stiffly buttoned up, their hearts
hard as the marble gifted
to the bishops.

Their necks adorned with rosary beads,
glassy nuggets of worship kissed
by thin lips puckered in reverence.
They carried Jesus everywhere,
their superiority silently choked them,
brushed off the guilt,
the heinous dust, whilst the rust
grew thicker coats on
the nails in their hundreds.

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