Agnes Bannon


First thing after we moved into the house on Oneida

I made Charlie put those flea-bag hides in the basement.

Bearskin, horsehide, maybe even a buffalo or two -

A nice house really has no place for such wildness,

but he wouldn't think of parting with them,

and I wasn't ready to part with him.


Early on he seemed content to study his insurance books.

He had plenty of ideas and he loved me.

But even then some uneasiness grew. I had to close

The candy store once we married. I was losing money

Anyway, but he wanted no wife of his to work.

I didn't like his constant stories of Montana.

I knew what they meant.

He knew I could never leave my family and Joliet,

Which was all I knew of this world.


He had wandered so far and so long from Cincinnati,

Never spoke of his mother or father, had smoked with sad Indians,

Traded ponies, homesteaded five hundred acres, and fell in love

With me on a business trip back here.

I knew I'd got him when he passed up a ride

With Mabel Logan to ride with me on the swans

In Dellwood Park. My life was one long summer then.

Charlie was a dandy in his fancy suit

And curly brown hair that would become so silver.


He loved me, so he stayed. And then, when it stopped,

We had the boys and Lib, my little girl. So he stayed

In Joliet and had his farm here and his farm out west and

The business, but he kept a hard, sad place in his heart

That drove him to the garden, the basement, and the field

Once we'd settled in off Theodore Street.

The house was mine - I furnished it in the pink he hated.

The land was his.


In later years we argued over everything, but never separated.

We stayed, bound by the children, the daily routine, the grandchildren.

Our oldest, John, had so many little ones I never could understand

How Mary Margaret put up with it.

But then she was Italian.



All poems by Br. Tom Murphy, O. Carm.

My Poems