The Sheela-na-Gig at Llandrindod Wells

by Sarah Kennedy

In her glass coffin,
                                                she’s surrounded—

museum walls,
                                    a garden outside—

with copper beeches,
                                                            a sweet little

pool. Not to mention
                                                the dé rigueur

red roses.
                        And the voyeurs gathered

around her shrine,
                                    her vault, and there she

still stands, with her
                                                            grim grin, all teeth. She’s

staring beyond us.
                                                Mica lights up

her cloudy shale skin,
                                                            and there’s a cross

graffitied on her
                                    sinister side.

She’s a marked woman,
                                                she’s bone, she’s hair,

                        top and bottom, from rib to rib.

Saved at last—
                                                            (Buried alive! Naked

woman found
                                                beneath the church doorsill!),

she’s not our idea
                                                            of beauty, her

fingers probing inside
                                                herself, her

skull-cap head,
                                    her wrinkles. Her sisters

hang out under sacred eaves,

at the cemeteries
                                    just outside,

or squat under the rims
                                                of bishops’

tombs. Her lips open,
                                                            she has something

to say, something to show—
                                                she is a

                                                                        she is an offering:

entombed, enshrined
                                                (mother, murderer

mirror). at the end,
                                                            we all come here.