237. That Night

Footfall broke her sleep.
Groggily, she rose up
On her elbows.
“Tom–what is it?”,
She asked from the bed.

Wind was cooing softly,
Nosing at the house.
Moon had come and gone.
Riah tried to clear her head,
Blinking. Tom?
There beside the wall?

Yes–she made him dimly, angles
Haloed as by ash,
The dusty air.
Blurred, he hovered
With a strange alertness,
Hand pressed to the window.
Heard a sound?
Tree-twigs, scratching
Cat-like at the panes.

Riah: “What–”

Tom: “It’s not
His fault.”
Plantings, and the choppings,
The mortgages, the creditors,
The bank–Hal Harlan
Was a frugal man,
Hard-working man.
Used to joke around, but
Plowed the straightest row
For miles around.
A wise, canny farmer.

Riah heard now
In her husband’s voice, a ring
She’d not heard
Of late, not heard
For years.
Vibrant. Free of weight.

Don’t sound tired
No more, she thought.
“Not
His fault,” he said two times,
Then three.

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