163. Coming Home

Unsuspecting,
She stepped through her
Door, thinking:
Louise can’t have
Come here, there’s no
Car. Even
Louise maddened
Could not walk that far.

Drifting up the porch,
She dropped her
Purse. Her eyes ached,
Dust and heat.
On the sill she
Took stock of the room,
Like she did not
Live there any more,
And had happened
By, a visitor. Faded
Easy chairs, two–
White tufts sprouting up.
Dining table
Scarred where James had scuffed.
Riah thought: one
Throwrug made of
Socks. One throwrug
Made of rope.
Trampled thin.
Strips of old
Wallpaper, peeling, dim,
I have been too
Lazy to take down.
Then, there’s me:
Pair of shoes with
Holes. Dress so
Threadbare in
The back my skin shines out–
My slip,
Hung in shreds.

Riah passed through,
Floating on
A wave of weightlessness.
Why had she not
Noticed this before?
Her house–ugly, empty.
Her attempts at
Beauty, pitiful.
She could count on
Two hands what she owned.
Riah stopped cold
At the kitchen door.

Riah’s dishes
Lay smashed on the floor.
She could
Recognize each jagged chip.
There had been her
Platter–her eyes
Led her–and
The jelly glass.
There had been
The bigger bowls for soup.
Slammed to splinters.
Slung hard to the floor,
Then the broken
Pieces dashed and ground–
Tiny rubble
On the hard warped floor.
Drawers of silverware had been
Dumped out, thrown
At random, her old
Dull bent forks and spoons.

Her face betrayed
Nothing. She edged
To the cabinets,
Swung the doors.
Inside there were
Left just two of
Each. Two plates.
Two cups, bowls.

A long time she
Stood there, eyes intent.
Finally she
Had an idle thought: how
Like Louise!–
No third left for
James. Him, she’d
Forgot.

Silent room.
Picking her path
Through the cracking wreckage,
Riah went out
Back to fetch
The broom.

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