St. Brigid of Ireland Gives to the Poor

Sara Biggs Chaney

I was taken from my mother & left to drink from the teat of a red-bellied cow.


I saw a woman called thief, cut in pieces and left for the crows.


Because I could not own myself, I learned to take–


I stole my father’s scabbard & threw it down before beggars


Then I stole my father’s butter & delivered it unto the armies of men


It was not in me to be good or to give of myself for profit of another.


I took the rich man’s pitcher of cream & spilled it on the beggar’s yellow lip.


I called that thief my sister.


What you call good was a way stop. My other name was plunder. I was whipped,


called profligate, and even after, I could not stop taking though sometimes,


when my sister was hungry, I gave.


SARA BIGGS CHANEY is a poet and writing teacher from White River Junction, VT. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Whiskey Island, Hotel Amerika and elsewhere. You can catch up with Sara at