119. Riah’s, That Afternoon

“My Lord, you are
Nervous! Lawsy, Riah!
Dropped that pot and
Now a baking tin!
I know what you
Need–a cigarette!”
Louise added,
“Go buy me some, too.”

Riah, leaning
Toward her, touched the cut.
“Ow! Don’t pick!”
Riah touched
The sore with a cold
Cloth. Louise:
“Ow!”
“Leave it on!”
“Won’t help.”
“Swelling
Might go down.”

Riah’d hardly
Said two words to her.
Angry? Louise
Thought, I’ll just
Jolly her.
“Riah! Know what
Bo did?” Riah
Dropped a spoon–“Lord,
Riah! Well, he
‘Lost’ the groceries!
Says he ‘lost’ them
Coming from downtown.
That’s our last
Relief till God knows
When.” Louise
Pressed the rag. “I’ll
Tell you where he
Lost them. Lost them
To Frank Sloan,
And ‘found’ some Sweet
Lucy in the trade. You
Know Sweet Lucy?”

Riah snapped, “I know”:
Prescription liquor.
Louise sighed, “That Bo.
Dumb excuse.
He’s so dumb don’t
Pull his head in
When he shuts the window.”
She laughed:
Louise liked
Insulting him to Riah.
His thick body,
Weighty arms and legs,
Seemed to shrink when
Told in Riah’s presence,
Like Tom Thumb:
Riah would make
Faces about Bo.

Not today, though.
Perplexed, Louise
Shrugged.

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