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Pratibha Castle: a poem

Padraig – Who Drove the Snakes Out of Ireland At the allotment, daddy forked the crumbly black earth till the air quaked with anticipation of excess, me sifting stones in search of treasure; the robin sat, pert, on the lip of the bucket meant to carry spuds or cabbages or the occasional giggle-tickle carrot back to placate the mammy. The bird's eye bright with a lust for worms, his song a crystal cataract of merry; though none of the seeds we sowed ever showed head out of the sly earth and we saw nothing of the slow worm daddy promised so that, his name being Padraig too, I guessed he must be a saint, especially when he himself vanished. Though he turned up months later at the end of school again and again and again till I had to tell the mammy where the books and toys came from which got me sent away to board at St. Bridget's convent where the head nun was nice to you if your mammy gave her fruit cake in a tin, bottles of orange linctus sherry, a crocheted shawl like frothy cobwebs, none of which my mammy could afford, Padraig having banished more than snakes.

Pratibha Castle’s work appears in print magazines including Sarasvati, Reach, Fly on the Wall Press, Imspired and various anthologies. It is featured in the online sites The Blue Nib, Impspired and Words for the Wild and is about to appear in Fragmented Voices. She has also published an award-winning pamphlet, A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Press, 2021).

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