Get Your Premium Membership

St Mary's

It was an island of piety out of place in Port Adelaide’s working class sea of pubs. Off the main road, St Mary’s was a refuge for the Catholic faithful and a few wino’s pretending a prayer for an hour of sheltered warmth. Three masses on a Sunday drew a dwindling crowd. My grandmother, dressed in her best with the mandatory hat, went to the 10.30. It was a mass for the elderly and the young hung over after a late night binge. I cut my teeth there on the grim chew of its doctrine. Back then latin rattled through its wheezy lungs. Old, dark, paint peeled, it always seemed a breath away from its last. Creaking pews, polished to a shine by a century of sliding bums, would advertise when you were late. Stained glass windows filtered sunlight through a panorama of pain. I was baptized by that wash of joyless light. Almost gone, St Mary’s was resuscitated by Italians keen to cage a stake. Their statue of the Virgin Mary poked a Mediterranean finger into the collective Anglo eye. Jewelry dripped, imposing and ornate, she affronted local tastes. Statues were for background, guardians of peripheral regions placed to arrest a wandering eye and bring it back to God. This Italian Virgin Mary stood like a crowned colossus. The old bishop’s ghost, they say, still wanders the church shackled to his guilt. Mary McKillop hovers in his tormented head. She's gone to God and sits a newly minted saint. The church grows smaller. Lodged like a barnacle on Port Adelaide’s rusted hull it still hangs on. The Italian Virgin Mary now seems at home and looks down on rows of vacant pews. Outside - shoppers pass in haste to serve more fickle gods.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2022

Post Comments

Poetrysoup is an environment of encouragement and growth so only provide specific positive comments that indicate what you appreciate about the poem.

Please Login to post a comment

A comment has not been posted for this poem. Encourage a poet by being the first to comment.