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Red Letter Day

And they had to be carried out of Gallagher’s
after having God knows how many
after they’d been up to the doctor in Swinford
and celebrating, ninety-two years on.
Jesus, they were mad with the drink
and smokin’ the odd fag,
though they were not, as a habit,
smokers,
but all the same
chimneys they were that night
and the stories came out of them, one after the other,
like the ram with ewes in heat,
the stories came, from both Bridie and May, twins you know,
and toasts, Jesus, toasts go leor.
To May’s son, the priest, in Baltimore,
And their father, God bless him, fifty years now dead
And to the photo of the Sacred Heart
over the back of the bar, illuminated,
And, Jesus, best of all, to the Catholic Messenger
which came every month, with the Lord’s words
printed in red.

For that red ink,
that they would wet with their spittle
and smear on their cheeks
to use as the rouge
their father never
let them wear.
Oh, Jesus, even well after they were carried out
ninety-two years and twins,
it was falling over laughing,
doubling over laughing,
we were still.

 

 

 

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