Year 1923 In the year of our Lord 1923, Emma Vowels was born, the
first girl to her Irish parents. The Family Vowels were
infamous in the Dublin slums, because they were barefoot
in the city where hob nailed boots rang out across cobbled
streets, as nobody could afford a first bus ride into town.
When Emma grew into a pretty girl, her indigo apron, ragged
and thready, was scorned by the local boys. They would
shout out to each other lewd and hurtful remarks, knowing
she could hear. "She's like a piano out of tune when she
speaks" she overheard an old washer woman say,and all the
Emma was always in clogs, but fantasised about shoes, and
about being able to read books, and about one day sailing
away on one of the big ships she saw at the quayside. But
the truth was that she would probably end up like her poor
mother, drawing lines of seams on the bare legs of the women
at the local knocking shop down the dock road.
Always windy and bleak, the dock road was a place of terror
and violence that loomed out of the fog and mist to haunt
the mind of poor Emma Vowels.
As she got older Emma took to collecting matchsticks and
from them she modelled a collection of little clipper ships
which she put into empty bottles. The same sort of ships she
dreamt of travelling on, to far away lands where the sky was
blue and the rain was warm and soft, not hard, cold and brittle.
Emma still dreamt of learning to read and write, own red shoes,
put on silk stockings, and feel sated, not empty. This grew into
a mantra for her survival, she repeated it often and loudly, into
the empty room.
The copyright of this post belongs to Valerie Rule