Sheila-Na-Gig online


Madison Whatley


Madison Whatley is a 21-year-old Saint Leo University Literature and Creative Writing student from Dania Beach and Hollywood, Florida. Her poetry has been published in Furrow and Chomp. She lives in Tampa, Florida.

Sunshine of the Gaels

for Sheila O’Brien

At 10, I told her
I love grapes.
I love people
who love grapes,
she smiled at me.
There are two ways
to know Aunt She.
She is the sweetest old
hippie you could meet.
She takes her bowl
of Vanilla Bean ice cream
to bed to watch Forensic Files.
She would throw down
and lose every time
but kick your ass
at Boggle. The wild side
of the flower child
persisted, though, and you
could be sure she’d
have to bring her Smirnoff Ice
into Walmart in a Zephyrhills water bottle
until it all caught up to her:
a broken hip and throat cancer.
She was forced to convert
to Diet A&W and Cream of Wheat.
I knew she hadn’t led
a healthy life— she had rid
her nail beds of the cigarette
ash twenty years ago.
But she still flat irons her bangs
to go to Family Dollar,
even with bruises on her chin
and stitches on her nose.
When I take too long
fiddling with my change purse
at the checkout at Tilly’s
or giggle inappropriately at the speaker
at my awards banquet, her nieces,
in their 30s, tell me,
Get it together, Sheila!
When I take an hour to get ready
because I keep telling my anecdotes,
or when I say young Elvis wasn’t sexy
because he had jowls:
You are so Sheila right now!
Few are astute enough to know this honor.
Aunt She and I don’t mind being lovingly
called slags because we’re happy
to see our family laugh. I’m her mini:
raised in Driftwood,
Hollywood Hills alumni,
Classes of 1970 and 2016.
Though we will never make it
on the Notable Graduates list
with the NFL players
and the dude who invented the Ollie,
Big Red created another Warrior Queen.
We thrive in joy.

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