FRANCES MURPHY POEMS - 1930-1950
nuns, making quick meditations
A line of Office, a few aspirations
In trains, speeding by the convent wall
In planes, winging over steeples tall
Through the cyclops eye,
I watch the whirling, sparkling suds
Spin from small jeans the grime of baseball fields
Our Lady had no sparkling
Nor modern method tubs
She took His seamless garment to the brook and knelt
To cleanse it of the dust of many roads
THOUGHTS ON HANGING UP THAT LAST SOCK
Yes. But grateful too
For the strength this work to do
Grateful for the water, heat and touted suds.
Grateful for the machine to lighten labor
Grateful for a family, causing homey toil
But mostly thankful that at last I know
I am not poor
This work is so acceptable an offering to Him
For years when he stepped
in his shower
Wet nylons provided him a bower
Now she steps in for a sponge and rub
With his drip-dry shirts a-tower
NIGHWAY NUMBER 40
Steering a boy from St.
Guardian Angel, aren't you busy?
Feet on the handle-bars
Guardian Angle, aren't you dizzy?
Down the highway, bicycle
Drivers swearing, drivers praying
He swings left - no right
With elaborate uncertainty
Only your wings between him and eternity
Time was, when stalled
in traffic snarls
I'd say, "Next time I'll fly,
There's room up there."
Now wingtip brushes wingtip
On a cloudy freeway route.
Then to-outer space I'd
To what avail?
I fear up there I'd only find
A Vanguard on my tail.
AND SO MY SOUL
[Written on the launch of thr Russian Sputnik,
the first missile sent into outer space]
The tiny sphere of gold
Snug in the rocket's nose
Sloughs off one stage
And then another, and a another
Till soaring free it finds its orbit
In the world of space
And so my spirit
Cased in worldly cares
Drops first the loves of childhood
Then of youth
Next go the things so dear to middle age
The trips, the talks, the teas
And then the quiet joys of later years
Until at last this earthly home it flies
To seek that place prepared for it
From all eternity.
IN DEFENSE OF TEARS
Why not? God wept.
Why not I?
Wish you were here
From me to you
How do you do?
Long time no see,
Why should this be?
Now that you're here, you hear
I'm still on hand
Still doing business at the same old stand
Write! Call! Run!
FORTY TO TWENTY
OR, THOUGHTS AFTER MY DAUGHTER'S PROM
The "Forties" so quietly sitting
Made me think, "Dear! How dull they must be!"
Never demanding or playing or flitting
About, just to see what's to see.
Never saying, "This formal? No, that one.
These slippers won't last through the week.
Jack's party? Yes, that should be fun.
His car's the original streak."
Yes, I've said that. I thought it must be so,
Never dreaming the real joys I'd share.
Now my books, friends and miracle radio
Bring the world to me here in my chair.
No, don't pity us, Twenty.
We're happy here
In a way you can't yet understand.
Swing can't tempt us, no matter how snappy.
We don't have to go.
Ah! That's grand
[Note: My mother did
not have a daughter, but she had a great imagination.]
June 1, 1939, in The Leavenworth Chronicle, Leavenworth,
Kansas, where we grew up. My mother was from Boston - Carolyn Frances
McCarthy Murphy - born 18 Dec 1895 - died 10 Sep 1971
Arthur Morton Murphy - born 24 July 1899 - died 10 Nov 1964.