A Diary for Christmas

Jeanna Ní Ríordáin

for Marjorie and Laura Rigby 

Yesterday, I heard an interview on the BBC with an English 
Great-grandmother named Marjorie Rigby, describing how,  
Each year, when gifted a new diary for Christmas, the first date 
She enters is 3 September, her stillborn daughter Laura’s birthday 
Every year for 70-odd years	

For 76 years, Marjorie never knew what happened to her baby,
After the birth, she was taken back to the ward and left, never   
Knowing what happened next. Finally, thanks to the charity 
Brief Lives Remembered, she discovered Laura had been buried
In her own little coffin in an unmarked plot in Stockport

Marjorie described feeling big relief and a sort of peace having
Found her daughter’s resting place. On her first visit to the grave,
She laid down flowers from her garden, and prayed. Back in 1946,
No one visited Marjorie in the hospital to help her with her loss,
She was discharged two weeks later, as was standard practice, 
And was just expected to get on with things and carry on 

So that’s what she did – she returned home, raised her family, 
And watched it grow. Filled the pages of her yearly diaries
With moments from her day, and plans for the months ahead.
All the while, leaving one page entirely blank, save for the 
Black ink mark of a date on a pristine, white new page
Every year for 70-odd years.

Jeanna Ní Ríordáin is a translator from West Cork, Ireland. She has a BA in French and Irish, an MA in French and a PhD in French, all from University College Cork. Her work has previously been featured in Quarryman Literary Journal, Poetry in the Time of Coronavirus: The Anthology, Volume Two, pendemic.ie, Burrow, Lothlorien Poetry Journal and Otherwise Engaged Literature and Arts Journal.



%d bloggers like this: