Seán Walsh: Pen Pal

Pen Pal

I lived a lot in my head, as a lad.

Like, I was the last in the – 

brothers and sisters well ahead of me. 

They were stretching their wings 

while I was still in the nest –

if – if y’know what I mean…

I didn’t know them. I didn’t really know them.

And my Dad was away a lot and my mother 

working the pub during the war years,

trying to make ends meet.

So I – I lived in a world of me own… 

Well, like, you won’t believe this

but I used to write letters.

To, to the Little Flower. ‘God’s truth.

Saint Teresa of, of Lisieux.

‘Every few nights. Two, three pages.

With the fountain pen I got for Christmas.

No matter how cold it was in that bedroom.

And I’d leave them folded 

under her statue on the tallboy

before getting under the blankets…

God only knows what became of them.

Dumped, I suppose, like a lot of stuff

when the family home was sold off…

And here’s a thing:

whenever now I go into a Church

she’s nearly always there, 

to one side or another,

standing with the bunch of roses…

And I wonder does she still remember

the lad that wrote to her

many’s the winter night 

all those years ago?..

Sure, how could she forget?!

And I think, maybe, she might

just get me into Heaven 

by a side door – when – 

when the time comes…

Seán Walsh

Similar Posts


  1. sean walsh says:

    When I first posted Pen Pal on my website a distant correspondent responded:

    “Exquisite! Your Teresa seems to me more readily accessible than Dante’s Beatrice.
    It matters less which one we learnt first than which touches us most within the frame of the poem.
    This is a marvelous poem. You don’t have to be Irish to get it. It’s about Love.
    – Steve Beeney. (Oklahoma)”

    Steve won’t mind me quoting him here. On the contrary…

  2. Martin Hogan says:

    A lovely example of what Pope Francis would call popular devotion, which he values himself. He is very keen on the statue of the sleeping Saint Joseph which, it is said, he keeps close to his bedside

  3. Sean O’Conaill says:

    The wisdom of innocence?

    As for myself in the 1950s I was imagining huge trout in the dark pool in the Dodder below Templeogue bridge, and catching them only when I was fast asleep. I was never happier than when fishing the Dodder, usually fruitlessly, in hope. And later when in Wordsworth’s lines near Tintern Abbey I read ‘the sounding cataract haunted me like a passion’ I recognised myself.

Join the Discussion

Keep the following in mind when writing a comment

  • Your comment must include your full name, and email. (email will not be published). You may be contacted by email, and it is possible you might be requested to supply your postal address to verify your identity.
  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger. Comments containing vulgarities, personalised insults, slanders or accusations shall be deleted.
  • Keep to the point. Deliberate digressions don't aid the discussion.
  • Including multiple links or coding in your comment will increase the chances of it being automati cally marked as spam.
  • Posts that are merely links to other sites or lengthy quotes may not be published.
  • Brevity. Like homilies keep you comments as short as possible; continued repetitions of a point over various threads will not be published.
  • The decision to publish or not publish a comment is made by the site editor. It will not be possible to reply individually to those whose comments are not published.