205. Return: Patty’s First Day Back

They had heard enough.
They had heard about the food:
Little sandwiches
Each buttered with cream cheese.
“It’s not true, what people say,”
Patty defended: “You know, that
Mrs. Roosevelt can’t cook.
Not true.
Not a bit. It was
Tasty, and refined.
“Well, she didn’t make it, Patty!”,
They objected, although Patty
Didn’t hear. They were
Told about the clothes:
The lines were softer,
This year, Patty noted–
Thank God, her hat
Had the modish angle,
Jaunty, with a kind of swoop–
No accident: she’d scanned
All magazines, preparing
For her first Convention.
Moreover, Patty said,
A woman who’d been there–
The Treasurer–was wearing
Patty’s very dress!
Patty, not aghast,
Was gratified.

She’d returned with sheafs of papers,
Resolutions, “Resolved,” this and that.
She read them out loud,
Squinting earnestly
As the club stitched: Here’s
Our Position on Child Labor:
No more children in the mines.
Floors for wages,
Ceilings, too, for hours,
For the Girls in Mills and Shops.
Safety Issues: Cotton Mills,
Among the worst.
Need for Libraries in Schools.
Need for Nurses: Public Health.
Well-Baby Care.
They nodded.
All of this was fine and good.
It seemed so far, though–
Factories and cities–so far
From the room they sat in now,
Wrists wrapped in thread.
Slowly they tied off,
Packed up,
Headed home.
“Nice convention, Patty.”

She was left at last with only
Riah, who, Lord knows, would
Listen to a horse: but Patty
Could not keep from talking.
At the end, all papers were
Gone over. Then as if
She had a secret, she
Leaned in: “They held
A reception there that night.
Not the GFWC–
The Democrats.
And the President attended.”
Riah nodded:
Patty’d said she’d seen him;
His wife, too.
“Well, I barely did–
I got a glimpse.
This huge hall, folks
Pushing everywhere.
But”–Patty bit her lip–
“I found this other room,
Off to the side.”
Riah waited.
Was Roosevelt in there?

Patty clasped her hands.
“It was Mrs. Roosevelt. And her–
Friends.” But that was
Not quite right.
Patty, quizzical, tried it again.
“Not friends, exactly. Like–
Club sisters, sort of. Or
Workers in the same place. Or
Talking business, or like
Classmates–” Patty drifted….
“Anyhow, they’re talking to her.”
“Asking about the President?” said
Riah, who thought that’s
What she’d do: she was
Hoping for some details,
Or to hear a funny story.
“Mostly not–
No!” Riah startled.
“More like–
Sounded like reporting,
Back and forth.
How are things in Texas,
Things in Oklahoma.
She was asking questions”–
Patty thought back–“and
Reporting to them, too.
What she’d heard in Iowa,
Farm women, how they did….”
Patty lost her train of thought.

“Nothing about the President?” asked
Riah. “Louise says she’s like
His legs.”
Patty, unheeding:
“She stood off alone. Off
In a corner. Folks came up
To see her…or
To talk to her, I mean….
Once I heard her say his name.”
Patty cocked her head and frowned.
“In the middle of some talking,
On some law, she says, ‘Well,
Franklin’–” Patty
Paused–“You know–
But it was how she said it….
Like–I don’t know what it’s like–
But not how you’d
Think she’d say it,
She says, ‘Franklin’….”

“Well, of course she
Calls him that,” said Riah;
“She’s his wife.”
“No….” Patty answered;
But could not explain.

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