about my great grandfather, who came over from Ireland, we think,
I wonder if you lived to celebrate a new millennium.
Grandmother knew only that you had fallen
When a scaffold broke apart.
I hope the bricks you last laid are still in place.
By the time I was adopted
By one of your 13 children,
Two world wars had come and gone.
You, a family legend: Boston Irish, first over, 1849.
Dark hair and dusky skin
Sparked a nickname: Black Jack Murphy.
You sized up your share; took it
By luck or cunning; a fit patriarch,
Jabbing or dogging
Until a way could be found.
No kin has matched your storied verve.
What of that other tale passed down?
Your father stealing sheep; fleeing
From Spain to Ireland; thus, the Moorish coloring.
What of your famed Robins’-egg-blues eyes?
Had an Irish girl loved that thief
I wonder if she lived to see you set off.
I picture your hand releasing hers; she in prayer
As your ship neared the horizon; you on deck,
Facing the open sea.