What She Thought

for Sinéad O’Conner after Heather McHugh

The man who is now a statue,
wore a metal clamp in his tongue
while burned in the public square
for believing If God
is not the soul itself,
He is the soul of the soul
of the world…and poetry
is what the gagged poet
thought, but could not say
as he burned.        Oh Sinéad
Bald Beauty in combat boots,
ripping the Pope,
the world took you—
not at once, in quick flame,
but piece by piece, slow
Inquisition, and you, ungagged
by your own hand,
told us precisely
what you thought,
what you felt
as you writhed on the stake.
That we heard you, Dear Poet—
as we drove our hybrids,
chewed packaged food,
watched Proud Boys on TV —
is the one thing in 423 years,
that has changed.

About the Poem

When I read Heather McHugh’s poem “What He Thought,” it occurred to me that Sinéad was hated for the reasons women (and those who threaten the status quo) have always been hated, dismissed, ridiculed, and abused. But she has her song. She was blessed with a voice.

About the Author

Dion O’Reilly’s debut collection, Ghost Dogs, was runner-up for The Catamaran Prize and shortlisted for several awards, including The Eric Hoffer Award. Her second book Sadness of the Apex Predator will be published by the University of Wisconsin’s Cornerstone Press in February 2024. Her work appears in Missouri Review, New Ohio Review, The Sun, Rattle, Narrative, and The Slowdown. She splits her time between a ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains and a residence in Bellingham, Washington.

Twitter: @dionoreilly
FB:Dion Lissner O’Reilly
Insta: @deepobrain

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