Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's Almost Sunday Morning

by Donal Mahoney

In the summer of 1956,
any Saturday at midnight
when the moon was full
and the stars were bright,
you would see Grandma Groth
on her front-porch swing
waiting for her son, Clarence,
still a bachelor at 53,
to make it home
from the Blind Man's Pub
after another evening quaffing
steins of Heineken's.

Many times when I was young,
I'd be coming home at midnight
from another pub just steps behind
staggering Clarence.
I'd always let him walk ahead
and listen to him hum
"The Yellow Rose of Texas."

But the last Saturday night
that Clarence and I came down the street,
I didn't see Grandma on her swing.
She wasn't waiting to berate him.
So far so good, I thought,
until, not far from his house,
Clarence fell into Mrs. Murphy's hedge.

When I finally got him up,
I moved him like a fridge on a dolly
down the walk and into his house
only to see Grandma, a wraith
in a hazy nightgown, swoop
into the hallway, screaming
and thrashing Clarence with her broom,
pausing only to tell me,
"Go home to your mother now
so you won't be late for Mass.
It's almost Sunday morning!"

After that sad night in 1956,
I never saw Clarence again,
either marching to work in the morning,
his lunch pail gallantly swinging,
or staggering home at midnight
from the Blind Man's Pub.
But many a midnight after that,
I'd be coming home
from the other pub,
lunch pail in hand,
and I'd see Grandma
reigning on her swing,
broom in hand,

Tonight, however, many decades later,
as I stroll home at midnight,
I realize I'm older now than Clarence was
the night he disappeared
and even though Grandma's dead,
I can still see her regal on that swing,
broom in hand, waiting,
and so I give her a big wave,
hoping to hear one more time,
"Go home to your mother now
so you won't be late for Mass.
It's almost Sunday morning!"

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