Wild Lass of Kells. A poem by Pratibha Castle


Wild Lass of Kells

She shuffles on the kerb outside O’Shaunessy’s, corner of Kelly and Dunleven Road. Her eyes the colour of Our Lady’s veil, scorched bluer by her copper curls. On the lookout for the Da. Her task of a Friday night to wheedle the wages off of him before he sets off on the lash. Glad of a break from the chores. Socks like a flock of crows, forever jostling, hand me down frocks in need of hems, pants snagged on barbed wire, nails, atop of farmer’s walls and fences. Herself, the firstborn of a baker’s dozen; endless mopping up of spats, snail snots, scabby porridge pots.

Licks of laughter, yellow light, sidle out the gaping door into the night, let out by culchies on their shuffle to the bar. Eejits with purple slurs for eyes, glances tossed her way

collection plate

clink of small change at

Sunday mass

The odd time, a flash of lust; the most times, shame. A rare smile to build her up, sure aren’t you a dote now, Delia, looking out for yer Mammy. God bless yourself.

Eyes cast down, pious daughter of The Virgin, Lord luv the child, in her wilting dress, miraculous blue medal clipped to the chest of her tatty cardigan. An occasion of sin, to be sure, sleveens might take advantage of. Till she glances up. That glare, brazen as hell’s flames, from the child of Maire of the Scry Eye, seventh daughter of a seventh son.

flame hex

of a

wild blood tinker

Skipping off home to a last scald of the pot, wedge of soda farl thick with dripping, her pocket is a clatter of coins, only the lighter by a bleary-eyed pint.


Pratibha Castle’s award-winning debut pamphlet A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Press) publishes Summer 2021. Graduating as a mature student from Chichester University with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing, she studied further on their Creative Writing MA. Her work appears in Agenda, Dreich, The HU, Blue Nib, Fragmented Voices, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Fevers of the Mind, Saraswati, Reach, Words for the Wild, Bonnie’s Crew, Panoply, Poetry and All That Jazz, Fly on the Wall, Lothlorien Journal. Winner of the NADFAS poetry competition age13 – 17,2009, Highly Commended in the Binsted Arts, Sentinel Literary Journal Competitions 2021, Storytown 2020, and Hedgehog Press, Postcards from the Hedge: A Bestiary of the Night and longlisted in The Brian Dempsey Memorial. She reads regularly on West Wilts Radio.

Note: This poem was longlisted for the Brian Dempsey Memorial Competition and appears in the prize winners anthology Horses of a Different Colour edited by Janice Dempsey

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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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