Imagine receiving your first criminal conviction

At five years old

Imagine a world where you are taken

By strangers



Imagine now that you are alone


Strange figures dressed in black

And white


Being convicted

Of poverty


Being sentenced

At five years old


Now imagine

You are taken

Away from your brothers

And sisters

By strangers


In black and white



You are a subordinate

An inmate

A fallen one

At five years old



You have been abandoned

By your mother

A widow

So poor

She could not feed you


Can you imagine?

Imagine your childhood

Imagine you are not

The only one

But you are not permitted

To talk to your peers

The other inmates

The rejects

And the misfits


Imagine your world

Twenty one years

As an inmate

In a convent

Cold, dark corridors

Dormitories housing

Trauma and fear


Imagine being told

You are guilty

You are dirty

You are unworthy



Your education

You will learn to scrub

The dirt off the cold

Hard floors

Your arms upto your elbows

Scrubbing habits and robes


At the end of the day

You’ll eat gruel

And pray

For the closing

Of the doors



The day

When you are cast out

And the door closes firmly

For the last time


You find yourself

In a world

You know nothing about

Your whole life

Has been within

Those cold, hard



Now you are out


Sentence served

You got no more than

You deserved



What would you do?

When you discovered

How different

The world was

For you.




This is a true story. A reflection on my mother’s life, she was born in Ireland in 1946 and was sentenced to 16 years in a convent having lost her father to cancer. Her mother was destitute and pregnant with her 12th child. My mother and her 10 siblings were abandoned when my grandmother left them and came to England with her newborn child.

◄ Golden Wing

Bad Blood ►


Profile image


Tue 16th Aug 2022 00:37

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and press the like button - it is much appreciated. Thankyou to Julie, Stephen and John for your kind comments. It is very important to me that my mother’s story and the thousands of people that suffered under these regimes are remembered.
Julie, I think the last of these places in Ireland closed sometime in the 80’s. It is all very sad. 😓

Profile image

John Botterill

Mon 15th Aug 2022 23:03

Thanks for sharing your story and the power of your poetry, Clare,

Profile image

Stephen Atkinson

Sun 14th Aug 2022 12:22

Poignant & powerful

Profile image

julie callaghan

Sun 14th Aug 2022 09:14

Difficult to imagine and hard to believe this happened not so long ago. Thank you for telling your Mothers story in this poignant poem.

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message