164. Return

Louise had rushed home.
Jammed the brakes and
Ran into the house.
Kitchen! She hung
Breathless at the door. Her
Safe. Untouched.
Her eyes
Darted: she’d no
Cabinets, only shelves
Nailed to the wall–
Cracked bowls, plates heaped
All haphazardly,
As they’d always
Been. No one had come
To get revenge.
Breath escaped her,
And her shoulders
Slumped. “Well!
Fine,” she said.
At that sound
A cat, that pesky
Stray that nested
In a messy corner,
Cocked its head,
Mewed, and slunk away.

She calculated.
What might Riah
Do? Surely
Tattle to her
Club: and how they’d
Pale! Aghast
At Louise’s treachery.
Say goodbye to
Patty’s make-up orders.
Riah might….
At this Louise
Stilled her painful squirming.
In her chair she
Sat with both hands
Might tell Bo.

Wonder crossed her
Face: but no, this
Episode had
Seemed so new!
Clever breakneck
Drive to Riah’s house!
Dishes ringing
Joyous to the floor!
Speculations on what Riah’d
Do! But–would this
Sink down to
The same old thing?
Louise stared out
Vacantly, defeated. When
Bo knew, same old thing.
Back to one more
Beating. That was it.

This then lacked all
Novelty, all
Triumph. Dizzy
Headiness of
What she’d done, now
She played with her
Ring. And Louise
Brooded: what
Won’t I try, just
Not to touch that
Bottle! With
A drink, I wouldn’t
Run amok, half-cocked!
I know if I
Drank, I could be
Calm. But all those years
Back, promised Ma–

Louise jumped: that
Sound? That Bo?–
Is it?–
Nope. Riah’s not had
Time to tell him yet.

Louise felt quite
Sure he’d be informed.
Though a ninny,
Riah’d see the power–
Power over
Louise, if she told.
Power, that prize
No one could pass by.
Louise nodded.

Then her gaze fell
To her fleshy forearm.
There embedded,
A small purple
Half-healed from
The nail of Bo’s right
Thumb. To her tired
Eyes, it seemed to

At its jagged
Bloody grin, she
Laughed. She
Tore at it,
Ripping at
The scab.

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