Requiem For Tillie Poem by Barney Rooney

Requiem For Tillie

The wee dark eyed girl.
Where is this child from?
What changeling act
what soldier on his weary journey back
from Salonica or somewhere over there
smuggled this wean in his pack
brought her from a foreign shore
to be raised in a drapery store
in North Queen Street?
What would a widowed orphan mother do
when left with such a child
already had the one
but send her to the nuns
to pass her schooling days
with her music, flashing smile
and a longing in her ways?

Ah wee dark eyed Tillie
what was that unsettling longing?
Married and prayed a Rooney but underneath
lived and breathed a different Keith
took your partner
and in all those years
no voice was ever raised
in anger despite the times and the struggles
flour bags washed and sewn for sheets
and no one in Marmount Gardens
that tight enough street
of ones and twos
ever given call to speak
ill of the catholic family and their six.

Nor its true were voices often raised in passion
walking hand in hand in the church's grace
neither quite in step with the other's pace
but giving each and us enough of space
to find ourselves.
Six children conceived and born
says duty was done in deed
and in hard won privacy
no doubt that longing took the lead
5 brought enough of challenge and of joy
but still there's a longing for a last wee boy.
And there he was.

The fulfilment and such pleasure with these last 3
job done - put to bed that yearning
the first 3 - aah...they were for the learning,
now, Mother Triumphant in her prime
the longing turns to warmer climes.
time to put away the night class paints
still the dream
of settling for a painting class's canvas scene.
Go there and know where the changeling seed has been
wryly smile at artists' talk of Ulster's dank beauty
or the Burren's wet grey slabs
you were born for sun and laughter, music and dance
and now can savour the latecome chance
in Venetian glowing light and blue blue sky
to play at the Italian with the wee dark eye.

Longings have their day
and still the twinkling fingers sway to play
Irish airs segueing into 40's swing
and the quiet sharp wit harnessed to please
bring colour to conversation
make each caller feel at ease.
In these days take all there is of pride
in everything you gifted to each child
family kinship and decency
a comfort in belonging
coloured in each case with
more than a little trace
of that restless longing
to try the taste of flowing free
of the comforts of duty and respectability

Well Tillie
It can't be said you didn't have your time
nor didn't take it and your pleasures quietly
brushing off the fuss
the more to savour it...
none quieter than now

Bri Edwards 02 December 2019

2 – i like the poem quite a bit, but am sure(?) i don't follow some of the events, and i don't wish to ponder too much, nor ask for explanations. too busy here! ha ha. bri :)

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Bri Edwards 02 December 2019

1 - " changeling" : " a child believed to have been secretly substituted by fairies for the parents' real child in infancy." but..." wean" as a noun? ? an Irish slang for child? stanza 3, line 1: " its" , not " it's" ? ;) & line 7: " in deed" or " indeed" ? So, Tillie's final pleasure is being dead (done quietly) ?

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Naila Rais 01 May 2018

A great write.... Keep it up... I would like you read my poem In the mid of the night depression you are killing me too. Naila

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Darwin Henry Beuning 25 March 2018

0525am,25 March 2018. Barney, today I will light a candle for Tillie, this being Palm Sunday.

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