That One Over

(Mary McCarthy Lynch, 1867-1949)

She wore the china cabinet key around her neck
As if she couldn’t trust even her long-time mate
To keep from making off with a gold-rimmed plate
To hock for whiskey money when he’d spent his check.
And what was inside the cabinet, to warrant theft?
China with chipped edges, “silver” that was silver plate,
A cut crystal jam jar she grandly called a “vase,”
A statue of Mary that a Lourdes priest had blessed.
Everyone else in town thought her man hung the moon:
She wouldn’t even call him by his Christian name.
“That one over,” she’d say, pointing across the room.
She made him sleep on the porch when he’d had a few.
To be Irish then was to be awash in shame.
He hadn’t deceived her yet, but you never knew.

Second Time Around

(Mary McCarthy Lynch, 1867-1949)

Back when I used to smoke, I’d stub them out
in crystal ashtrays all around the house

that turned my stomach, emptied in the trash.
Times when I slipped the last one from the pack

too late at night to risk a run for more
at some gas station slash convenience store,

I’d comb through ashes for the longest butts
and light them up again without disgust.

* * * * * * * *

Minnie McCarthy scandalized the town
of Knockmullane, Cork, turning Jack Lynch down.