A Stranger in the Church [poem by John O’Brien]

[Editor: This poem by John O’Brien was published in Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921.]

A Stranger in the Church

’Twas Callagan who jerked the thumb —
A mute, interrogating thumb —
That set the people staring
At Casey’s lot arriving late.
They had in tow a fashion-plate
In tailored garments up-to-date,
And patent leathers wearing.
From heel to collar shining new
(His hair was like a poet’s, too),
He went and sat in Casey’s pew,
His lofty manners airing.

’Twas Mrs. Cooney raised her veil —
A handsome, netted, spotted veil —
To mop the perspiration;
And while she mopped, she took the chance
To shoot one sly enquiring glance
(Which trivial happy circumstance
Escaped his observation).
And McEvoy, he stole a look,
The while he gravely moved the book.
And certain useful bearings took
To help the situation.

’Twas Mac himself who told the yarn —
An unauthenticated yarn —
While after Mass we waited,
Of bank account, and purse, and pelf
(“But, faith, he was a pagan elf —
I never seen him bless himself
Nor read his book,” Mac stated)
So there and then we made a bid
To find his secret where ’twas hid;
We found out what his father did,
And how he was related.

’Twas brother Jim made up his mind —
A calculating, jealous mind —
That “that there toff” was courting.
He saw him smile when Mary spoke,
He watched him help with Mary’s cloak.
And drive away with Mary’s folk,
At Mary’s side disporting.
And Mary looked so coy and trim —
At least it seemed that way to Jim —
And this it was that rattled him,
Each trifle misreporting.



Published in:
John O’Brien. Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1921

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