Erin's Song  5:35
(Brenda Linton/North Shores, BMI)

Bridget’s address was a grand house in Beacon Hill.
She was a live-in girl.
The judge’s wife gave her caramels and sweet sachets.
She was treated well.
They say that I favor her,
the same green eyes and chestnut hair
and a smile so bright in the photograph,
I can see my spirit there.

Bridget came to our city through Montreal. She sailed on a fever ship so dark and close
that she longed to be with her family,
her passage their only hope.
She left her sister in Grosse Isle.
She said goodbye under a Celtic cross in a foreign land,
no blessing said,
her courage all for naught.

On Sunday, cousin Bridget will join us for tea
but my mother’s eyes will rest only on me.

Each month, Bridget put half of what she earned
in a brown envelope
and sent it to people
she would never see again.
The rest she stuffed into her pillow
for a new dress to wear when she walked by the river
on Sunday
with her friend from County Clare.

At dinner my father said, “Listen, Erin,
there was no famine in the land,
only apathy, false economy
that turned lives into commodities.”
But Bridget remembers
how the unlucky ones with hollow eyes and mouths of green
watched wordlessly
as their bounty rolled to the sea.   

My birthday was yesterday, I turned thirteen.
When I awoke, I had a feeling so dear to me
and a memory
that I cannot explain.
No parties, no boyfriends,
no presents can turn me from this shame when I think about
my cousin’s life
and the fate we both escaped.

Come Sunday, cousin Bridget will join us for tea
but my mother’s eyes will rest only on me.
Come Sunday, cousin Bridget will join us for tea
but my mother’s dark eyes will only see me.