The carcass of a crow hangs by the feet and sways in the wind tunnel the shed provides.
It is a method of defence, a warning.
The carcass acts as a house alarm, warding off surviving crows. Like many burglars, the crows quickly realise the defence’s flaws, all smoke and mirrors you could say, and they never forget a face.
Sheela Na Gigs and the hanging carcass share foreboding purposes. A Sheela is a stone monument which is largely associated with the Catholic Church. Ireland has the highest population of the monuments in the world. Sheela has her lady bits on full display and is the bouncer between our world and theirs. She keeps out the demons and bad spirits which is fair enough, they’ll only ruin the innocent craic we’re all having anyway.
The Sheela’s gaping genitals were said to be the fruit of an unbelievable misogyny and were to be visual representations of the church’s teachings. Their appearance varies from rib showing hags to busty long-haired goddesses (temptation comes in all forms, shapes and sizes, I guess).
To fear women? (maybe) or sex? (probably).
Found in the gaping holes of the countryside you stumble upon them, vulnerable and alone.
Ah God Help You Gossin.
It was lemon yellow, the top she was wearing that day. Cut off under the rib by a tight band of elastic from the waterproof trousers, distorting her body’s proportions. Her hands shielded by blue latex, she lugged white buckets of milk. The never-ending journey to the babes.
It’s an infectious noise they make, like sucking spit through your front teeth.
She’s face-down on the kitchen table when I see her.
I hold my breath.
Both arms hanging from her shoulders as the dead crow hung in the shed. Nose flattened by the pressure and embossed with newspaper ink she rose. With a release of breath, I smiled and laughed.
“Did you think I was dead, did you?
You Aul bowsey laughing at me.”
Banishing her Evil Left, He was calling her. He was calling her through the rubber teats, through the astronomical vagina of the Sheela, but she’s always been so stubborn. The light became more blinding, pulling the visor down in Dot’s car. Unrecognisable without her Evil Left, I stood confused, witnessing a dying medusa through a crack in the hospital door. It was a balancing of the equilibrium, of the duality of life. I would never have described Kathleen as balanced, but definitely not unbalanced. Physically, without her Evil Left she leans, slouching in the chair as the sheep hide fails her. It becomes weak as her Right becomes stronger. Time is passing, nothing waits, we are progressing. Balanced to me is symmetry, of an even scale, but Kathleen fluctuates in this sector, jumping from one position to the other with confidence that would assure you it wouldn’t change again. He took her Evil Left to give her the purity of her Right, to give her rest, to remove the darkness of night. This is what she prayed for, for purity and forgiveness.
Who knew wishing songs came true?
“Why did he do this to me,” she asked.
Perched on top of a cushion on her new mobility chair.
Not a time for humour.
Not a time for laughs.
We didn’t discuss her disability at length by any means, mainly because at that time her speech was largely affected but also so as not to dig a hole for myself, aware she would bury me in it.
As time went on alterations were made to her surroundings. Her artefacts hung at her concluding eye level, an exhibition of her in objects. The house was now re-constructed specially for her.
The house which she would argue was hers prior.
I’m teaching her to play solitaire on her Dell laptop when chatter from the kitchen radio catches my ear. The prosecution of a man from Tipperary who is said to have sold a Sheela Na Gig on the black market.
I have an image in my head of a man running through hilly Irish fields in the wind and rain in an aged eighties jumper and jeans with the small stone figure tucked under his arm like a rugby ball. Her face is covered by the hideous jumper, its cavernous vagina sticking out the back like a flag.
She looked at my confusion and began to laugh, maybe she had a similar image in her head.
Turns out you can get a fair penny for a Sheela on the black market but look at us being sold as a material once again.
I wished he was from a family of boys who received their inheritance but couldn’t find women to bare their heirs. For him to be shut down with Tuberculosis and put on the farming backlist. To be messing with the dark spirits and for Sheela to call in sick that day or to be so protected by Sheela that he wished his placid mother was still alive. His face archived by the remaining eye of the swinging carcass.
She is what I believe to be a real-life Sheela, Kathleen doesn’t suit her at all really.
Equally loyal to the church as herself, she bared five children and reared none, achieving but a business relationship with her eldest son.
She is the matriarchy at the head of the table but feeding the men before herself.
I call her Misses Madam
and The Dowager,
a verbal deviant.