201. Storm, February 15: Breakfast (Visibility 1/2 mile, Duration 11 hours)

Frantic, the wind
Screamed and threw itself.
Room jounced, like
A barrel on a wagon.
So we’re fish in a barrel,
Thomas thought, his elbows
On the breakfast table.
Walls strained, and he
Heard a rending creak–
What could that be?
Not the crossbeams, Lordy–
Not the roof?
They’ll think I’ll fix it
With my magic wand.

James glanced uneasily
Around him. It’s
A bad one: they were
Jumpy in the house.
At least inside the house, they
Should be safe, he thought
Resentfully, legs twisted
In a knot.
The lamp was lit already;
Still, shadows thickened
And disguised each face.
Behind the dust
Tom’s narrow features blurred.
Feeling woozy, James
Fixed on his glass.
Before his eyes, but slowly,
The milk browned;
Floating dirt sank down
In loops and strings.
Ma will make me drink this.
I’m supposed to cover it–
My fault, she’ll say.
“I’m sick…” he started.
But the wind howled,
Stole his voice away.

“Biscuits! Butter!”
Riah came in from
The stove. She had never
Liked to cook so well as now.
Meals, lean as they were,
Picked up the day:
They waited for them.
“All right!” A try at cheer,
But no one helped.
Wordless, Tom and James
Turned up their plates.
James looking pale?
She passed the biscuits. Tom
Might take time to notice,
She thought, peevish,
Lifting up the butter cloth.

The three stared.
Bugs? A swarm of tiny
Dark specks, it appeared, had
Wormed into the yellow
Lump. It looked
Nothing like butter–
It was brown;
Pocked and rife,
Discolored, foul, with–
“Dust,” said Riah softly.

James pushed back his chair.
Tom’s eyes were down.
“It’s only dust,” she said,
As to herself. However
Did it slip beneath?….
She found the knife. “Well,
It can’t go too deep,” she stated,
Business-like, as she
Began to slice.

One Response to “201. Storm, February 15: Breakfast (Visibility 1/2 mile, Duration 11 hours)”

  1. Catherine Says:

    How devastating…to look forward to making a meal, something Riah does not really enjoy doing, and to find that the dust has invaded even this! ( I especially love the lines: Meals, lean as they were, picked up the day.”) Her strength is so admirable…as she “business-like” begins the task of trying to remove it from the butter.

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