The Cousin

by Dermot J. Archer

The Cousin
for Monica

After rosary, nodding as the voices gently pitch,
after five decades of knees on the purgatorial stone-floor,
the finale of this maestro of the Sorrowful Mysteries
as long as his lead performance
with Hail Holy Queens, the conversion of Russia,
the plight of Cardinal Mindszenty,
a swing of his whittled-down beads,
an irreverent blessing, dismissed the children
and their young cousin come to stay for the night.

In bed the children,
ghosts exorcized, forbidden imaginings sniggered-off behind hand,
tomorrow, the world —
slip jigged and reeled
soft-shoe
their in time heads and improvising ears
to the rise and fall of voices
rosined in the living-room.

Dawn already nothing more
than a wheezing, face-blueing tilley lamp
or the after-glow of a night gorse-fire
goaded by the wind;
shadows still hadn’t stepped out
of the whitewashed darkness
in the one bedroomed farm house
to witness the sack-race practice of an arthritic
at times more like the double-somersault of an Olympic athlete
in bed under flour bags
(bleached and stitched together)
try to pull his trousers, his tourniquet galluses
over perennial long Johns.

The wife: Sure she’s one of yer own kin,
dead to the world.

The fox sleeps, his reply.