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Wee Mary MacKillop minds the shop

  • 16 December 2014

Poem for Miss Mary MacKillop, of Fitzroy   Today’s startling news: Australia’s only recognized Catholic saint, So far, was born on Brunswick Street, in Fitzroy! Now, you might Wonder why this is an astonishing bit of ironic and amazing news, If you have never been to Fitzroy, a rough neighbourhood in the tall Old seething roaring city of Melbourne – but I have been there and I can tell you that Fitzroy always was and will be a wry wilderness; Every colour and ethnicity and language you can imagine lives there. I am not kidding. The commission flats, the dogleg brooding alleys, The trams – I walked there for weeks and saw every kind of sad and Cruel and lost and tough and gentle and graceful and awful and holy There is, seems to me – I saw a lot of Australia in twenty city blocks. And now I see wee quiet shy Mary MacKillop there, minding a shop. She is fourteen. Her people are Scottish. She will be legendary, later, For her ferocious dedication to helping the poor – you cannot ignore Them, she will say one million times to power and money and pomp. You cannot pretend you do not see them. You cannot say that we are A great and lucky country when so many innocents are starving. You Can lie to yourself and in public but I will not lie also. Look at all the Huddled souls, raped and beaten and hungry and cold. They are all us. Yes, they are. This has nothing to do with religion and class. They are All us. If there is a great Australia it will be the one that rises to house And feed and protect those who have nothing. I saw them when I was A child on Brunswick Street and now I can’t not see them. Thousands Of them in every city and county and state and reserve. They’re all us. The whole country is Brunswick Street. Come with me to pick one up.   Times Tables   Just got a note from my mom, in which she tells me That my gentle wry witty subtle sister, now resident In a monastery, used to rock my cradle with her foot While chanting her multiplication tables aloud. How I would love to report that I remember every blessed Moment of this, how my sister tried to achieve a