The Spirit of Holiness

(or, was Mary MacKillop and alcoholic?)

The men of importance want to know
if all the rumours about brandy are true.
What can I tell them, in their towers of ivory,
of the red which caused me so much strife?
Rags were my only scarlet,
not robes such as theirs.
Dare I speak to them
of my unmothering womb
which shriekingly let go each month
its expectancy?
What could I convey to them
of that more than normal malaise
which clenched its fist inside me?
The brandy was inadequate anodyne
for the rough roads, the distance, the dust.
I knew no man,
I had no child,
It was a double loss.
Yet, into the chalice of this thirsty earth
I poured my blood
and something still sings.