Niamh Clune

Environment, poetry, comment, children's books,

A Child’s Sin By Niamh Clune

girl in playground

I was that child
standing in the corner
with a chalky duster
wrapped about my thin, white, offensive shoulders.

The nun decided I had come to school “naked”
clothed as I was in summer dress,
with straps in place of sleeves.

I asked what naked meant,
as I stood in the shameful shadows of the grey school playground.
I was six and could not understand
the sin I had committed
the sin of wearing a special dress
the only one I possessed
given me by my mother
on that one occasion
she had time to dress me.
She had combed my hair
and sent me to St. Joseph’s
to learn something.

Copyright 2013 Niamh Clune

About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books.

15 comments on “A Child’s Sin By Niamh Clune

  1. Uncle Tree
    March 14, 2013

    I’d say – you learned a lot, Niamh.
    Culture bites! And sin lies in the eyes
    of the innocent beholders. I remember,
    “Don’t touch that! It’s dirty.” Well, what isn’t?

    A plumb before it falls from The Plum Tree 😉


    • ontheplumtree
      March 14, 2013

      I learned how sin-filled were the eyes of the beholders. Perhaps, being obsessed with The Fall From The Garden Of Eden, they make all innocence sinful. They were twisted in their bitterness and obsession…that’s what I ;earned. It’s no wonder the Church is in the state it’s in, when that kind of thinking still perverts it.


  2. DiAnne Ebejer
    March 14, 2013

    Powerful poem Niamh. 🙂


  3. lorddavidprosser
    March 14, 2013

    You no doubt learned Niamh that the church holds evil as well as good Niamh and that all Nuns aren’t as white as painted, such cruelty in place of proper education for a child. The stories coming out of Ireland about the laundry girls are quite horrific. Added to the stories of the terrible acts committed against children by priests and of homosexuality, it makes you wonder why the Catholics Insist on celibacy in the Priesthood which is an unnatural state of affairs.I see more and more why my agnosticism is the way to go.


    • ontheplumtree
      March 14, 2013

      Yes, Lore David…I grew up in the atmosphere of The Magdalen Laundries. My mother used to take in pregnant girls who had fled Ireland. And every little girl knew about the priest “touching you”. But you weren’t allowed to say anything. It was, quite simply, part of the culture.


  4. Juliette
    March 14, 2013

    This brought me to tears. All children deserve to learn without fear, to hope, to be themselves, to feel good.


  5. Pingback: A Child’s Sin By Niamh Clune | West Coast Review

  6. Patricia Tilton
    March 14, 2013

    Very moving poem Niamh. So many people have been touched by their early relationships with the church.


  7. thiskidreviewsbooks
    March 14, 2013

    Sad 😦 Very powerful.


  8. the secret keeper
    March 27, 2013

    What a horrendous thing for that nun to do. Where was her compassion. She showed no signs of having learned any teachings from Jesus. where was her kindness. Why did/do adults feel they can treat children in such a disrespectful way. I stand with you, feeling that they are the ones who should be humiliated. How dare she treat anyone that way. It is so painful to read. It is so difficult to know that such acts as this went on and continue with this kind of cruelty. Children do deserve to have their innocence respected. I am sorry to hear this story and I do know it is something that is true and happens to far too many children. It is a powerful piece that you have written. Such bravery to record those word. Jesus was a gentle man but where he saw wrong he would right it. Well, that nun and all like her need to be righted. pLease forgive me for not reading this sooner. It may have been more than I could have bared when you first posted it. Love, Jennifer


    • ontheplumtree
      March 27, 2013

      Yes, Repression creates all manner of evil doings that are shrouded by the nun’s habit, or identified by the yoke of the priest.


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This entry was posted on March 14, 2013 by in Special Projects and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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