“Sewage Babies” and “Missing” by Deborah Watkins

Old church yard, Clifden

Sewage babies

Put on our Sunday best for Mass.
Let on we haven’t heard
about dead babies in Tuam.
Eight hundred infants,
bunkered in human filth.
Bones tossed like old coins,
dump of dead currency.
To those who defend
servants of God and state:
‘They did the best
with what they had.’
What have we?
Garrison church.
Proud, complicit government.
Blessed well of



Hour by hour you lie hidden under forest light
as it rises and falls dimly through the trees.
Year by year you slip a few more degrees
into the earth while you wait and yet
your ending clings, like the lingering sound of an old tune.
Each season breeds cool abeyance –
wood sorrel drifts ivory white
while chard green ivy creeps.
Dog roses run wild. They root in your place,
parade their disdain but your bones
remain constant and strong – poised
silent cymbals in the theatre’s gloam –
they wait for the musician to stand,
take them in his arms and ring
out a crash of sound that cries
I’m here, I’m here!
Sewage Babies and Missing are © Deborah Watkins

Profile picDeborah Watkins is a painter and a writer who also worked for many years making decorative ceramics. She grew up in Dublin and studied craft design at the National College of Art and Design. Deborah moved to Connemara in 1991 where she now lives with her three young daughters and her husband Gavin Lavelle, who is also an artist. They run the family business together in Clifden – The Lavelle Art Gallery which showcases painting and sculpture by local and nationally renowned artists.

Deborah began to paint more or less full time in 2008. She writes a blog about her painting processes and the natural landscape in Connemara, which reached the final of the 2012 Irish Blog Awards. Deborah began writing poetry in 2013 and she attends a poetry workshop run by Galway poet and essayist Kevin Higgins. Two of her poems have been published in Skylight 47, the Galway poetry newspaper, one in the forthcoming Summer issue. Deborah is also a feature writer in her local newspaper the Connemara Journal

5 responses to ““Sewage Babies” and “Missing” by Deborah Watkins”

  1. I thought there could be nothing worse than this; it’s beyond any horror from wartime. More outcry from all poets, writers, artists, all of us to keep this in the news! Thank you for doing this so quickly.


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