A new poem by Jerry McGrath

Early Duty

Granda died and Mommy packed
my bag and sent me down the road
to live with Nanny

whose grief was new.
So, too, was her contentment
at having a little girl
share her roof and table
and bed.

I came home for homework
and for an hour or two
on Sunday after Mass
I lingered.

Two brothers and two sisters
saw me to the door
and waved like royals
to see me go.

From our pillows
we prayed, me and Nanny,
a rosette cast by a kerosene
heater pulsing on the ceiling.
Then we turned over
to meet our fears.

Later, when I slept alone,
Nanny made sure I couldn’t
sleepwalk into trouble.

She tied the door
with one of Mr. Willie’s ties.
I couldn’t help but see him
at the keyhole peeping in.