225. Patty Pauses

Patty tapped her
Pencil. Tapped it
Three times, then
Two; tapped it
Three times,
Then two.

“We won’t have that
Damn potato stew
Again, tonight, I hope?”
Bud shook his paper out.
Don’t swear in front of Matt.
“Of course not, dear.”
Bud flipped the stations
On his radio. “How
Come I smell it, then?”–Damn
Her!–in these past weeks,
She barely listened:
He frowned, and lit up.
Where was the damn ash tray?
Where was she?
Deliberately, he held out
His cigar.
An ash fell, silent, to
The flowered carpet,
Singeing its orange poppies
With gray dots.

I see:
He’s burning up my rug.
Tap. Tap.
No wonder:
He’s bored with his show.
Tap. Tap.
I found his favorite program for him.
Tap. Tap.
I turned the dial there when he came.
Tap. Tap.
I put his paper on his table.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.

And before:
I told Matt to ask him something.
Tap. Tap.
To fix the tire on his bike.
Tap. Tap.
To help Bud feel a little useful.
Tap. Tap.
Because men fret, without a job.
Tap. Tap.

And Matt was glad….
I heard him ask him.
Tap. Tap.
And when he did,
His father said–
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Tap.
“I ain’t no mechanic.
I’m a banker.”
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
To his boy.

Gypsy Hash,
The recipe she’d copied,
Faded underneath her eyes.
She’d not been feeling well,
Since the Assembly.
One day this week
She’d even stayed in bed.
“Don’t start that
Woman-sickness,” Bud had
Warned, and bought her
A large Pinkham’s
From the store.

Tap. Tap. Tap.
“Three small potatoes….”
She was ready
When a knock came at the door,
Eager, anxious for some news.
She opened it. Jeanette:
“Patty! Patty!
Lordie!–”
Breathless–
“Have you heard?”

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