155. The GFWC

Nell leaned forward.
“Her car’s there all
Time. Practically
Lives there. Like it’s
Home! Why, she
Can’t sell Riah
Make-up every day!
Sometimes she’s
Alone there with
The boy!” Brightly,
Jeanette nodded:
What relief to
Hear of someone’s
Folly–not more
Glum foreclosure tales! “Well,
I’m not saying
Anything. I’m not.
But Riah near
Flaunts it in our face.
A woman of that type–that
Sort. I won’t say.
But I’ll say it’s
Gone on long
Enough.” The others
Nodded.

Out from Patty’s
Kitchen, Riah bustled.
Talk fell off. They
Muffled their vexation: Riah
Never would
Discuss. She simply
Did. Consulting
No one.
No one yet had
Made her change her ways.
As co-hostess,
She filled candy trays.

“Mail!”
Patty burst in
Through her kitchen door:
Thin blue envelope and eyes
Alight. “Well,
Ladies!” She stood
Beaming. An announcement?
“As of now,
Now this very
Day….We are all
Members of the Club!”

They gazed at her.
Of course: Sewing Circle.
Patty said, “Not
This club! No, it’s
GFWC!” Bemused, they
Stared.
“General Federation of
Women’s Clubs,” said Riah. Patty’d
Told her this, and
That was all she
Knew. The others,
Cups in hand.

“We’re affiliates!” Patty
Explained. “We’re
Affiliated!”
This term had some
Meaning, they could see.
“We’re hooked up with
All these other clubs–it’s not
Just our little–
Clubs across the country.
If you–say,
If you drove to
Dallas, Austin,
Anywhere–there’s
GFWC clubs you could
Phone….”
What for? They cocked
Heads. Even
Friends they would not
Look up–only
Kin.

Their faces opaque,
Tactful: too
Many crazy ideas in this
World. And
One might leave them
Worse off than before.
The envelope, now
Wilting in her grasp.
“Or someone could
Come from out-of-state, come
Contact us.
They have this
Convention–they pass
Resolutions–this is
Nation-wide!”
Patty paused. Then:
Who should we
Elect as delegate?”

Too obvious,
Even to her ears. Patty
Blushed. Riah
Piped up:
“What about you,
Patty?” All
Nodded–“That’s nice,”
Started packing thread.
Patty, sensing
That the deed was
Done, hovered;
Then collected cups.

Once inside
The kitchen, safe, unseen,
Sighing, she slumped
On the Frigidaire:
“Thank God they’re too
Hick to think of dues.” For
Patty’d paid their
Dues out of her
Pocket, back when
Bud still worked. She’d
Sacrificed her
Budget for fall clothes.
Too, she’d named
Herself their President–and lied
On how many
Members, so less dues.
GFWC need never know.
Her friends would not
Brook this trespass
Of the sacred
Law: each pays his
Own. Well, what
They don’t know, won’t
Hurt. White lie.
Not a lie–
A fib.

Patty smiled. Those
Daydreams–
At two, three a.m.,
Slowly rocking
While she fed
The baby–they’d come
True! Patty
Hines at the Convention!
Dressed most likely
In a sleek smart mauve. Maybe
Speaking to the floor….
Reporting back then
To her friends–oh,
Surely they’d keep
House for her, and
Watch the children,
Sure….

Patty stirred.
With a new
Assurance, hugged herself. Yes,
They must help:
After all, they’re
Members of
The Club.

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