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A Widow and Her Pekingese | A Poem by Donal Mahoney

Summer evenings
after the news at 6 p.m.
the Widow Murphy comes out

of her tiny bungalow and sits
on her front porch swing
with her ancient Pekingese

yapping mournfully in her lap.
She waves to certain people,
just a few, while ignoring most

although she knows every neighbor
after her long reign on the porch
as the queen of our block.

We live next door but she never
waves to us or says hello to me
not even back when I was 10

and offered to mow her lawn free
for nothing, as I used to put it.
She simply looked away and let

the Pekingese yap her answer.
My father told me then not to worry
about the Widow Murphy’s ways.

Her husband died in Korea, he said.
They never found her son in Viet Nam
and she had a daughter doing life

for murdering a man the jury must
have known had beaten her for years.
The man was her husband and a cop.

Later in my teens my mother said
the Widow Murphy had every right
to be a private person and live out

the remnant of her life as she saw fit.
But when I was 10 cutting our grass,
I thought she was a ventriloquist

and the Pekingese her dummy
yapping for all the world to hear:
Life isn’t fair, isn’t fair, isn’t fair.

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