Nineteen eighty-three: the Exorcist

He stood at the end of the bed
In the cold hospital ward.
The mad
The insane
All around
Eyes staring, bulging
The spirits of the dead
Surrounding them

The scream rose
from deep within
That stretched back
through time.
No beginning
No end
It filled her
Until she felt
The weight of all the dead
The weight of the host
On her lips
He placed it there
With hands
Soiled by the wet
Of the semen
The gooey sticky dirty semen.

And her cry went on unending
Into the vortex
Of that space
That underground cavern
That unholy of unholies
As she writhes on the bed
And he bears down on her
He is the exorcist
He holds the crucifix aloft
And God screams NO
No exorcism here
This girl is innocent.

And the punishment
shall be great
For those who profane
My name
Who come
like a thief in the night
And steal the innocence
The wildness
The beauty
The grace.
And leave behind
But ugliness
The ugliness
Of sin
Of guilt
Of feeling dirty
Unwashed .........

She hears the trickle
of water
As she lies there
Wrapped in the sticky
Mucous laden semen
While he cleanses himself
Under the lifeforce
Of running water
She is not even allowed
This act of redemption.

But she has left her body
She floats somewhere
Up to the ceiling
To get away
To leave the smell of evil
Of rancid putrid excrement
She escapes
Through her mind
The only way
Leave the soiled body behind
Discard it
And feel no pain.


She awakes to blackness
To swollen breasts
No light enters
She hears the cry
of the Banshee
She sees her flowing hair
She hears her footsteps
Guided towards
That blue light
Land of milk and honey
She walks towards the light
It enfolds her
As she stretches out her hand
To touch him
The beauty of him
The perfection.
And her child sleeps on
Where is she?
Where has she gone?
Her breast no longer there
The tenderness
The love
Now floating
Floating somewhere
Out of reach
He cries out in his sleep
She hears his wail
And feels his pain.

In 1983 one week after my child was born I was admitted to Ballinasloe Mental Hospital. I remember very little of the first five days there. What I do remember is seeing the priest who had sexually abused me as a child stand at the foot of my bed. Later I realised that it had been a hallucination. I had never spoken to anyone of the abuse. During that admission and later breakdowns, I exhibited a belief that I was evil and needed an exorcism. This gave me the title for my poem. It was only through therapy with The Rape Crisis Centre (since 2013) that I began to understand that my inner child had internalized the sexual abuse as her shame, her guilt and her evil. It had gone deep into my subconscious where it lay dormant until the birth of my child.