25. Back To The Bank

Bud stuck a finger
Down inside his collar.
So tight,
Used to think he’d never fit.
He pulled at it.
This switch he’d made
To banker, part-time farmer–
“Sidewalk farmer,”
They said on the sly–
Seemed since then
His friends could not decide
Was he lazy? Crafty? On the rise?
They’d wised up, though,
Glad to shake his hand,
When time came to see him
For their loans.
Then it’s “Hey there, Bud.
Hello! Good day!”
Bud crossed the street,
His pocket jangling keys.

Inside, the bank
Shone. The wood
Gleamed with barroom polish.
A parquet floor, smooth-laid,
Someone paid
To clean the glass each day.
The vault was new:
He eyed it with regard.
He’d come from swapping tales
Down at the store.
Closed the bank awhile.
Bud turned. “Mr. Macklehouse!”
Bank vice-president,
From county seat.

Mr. Macklehouse, though
Smiling, was not pleased.
Bud knew before he spoke–
As Patty knew, with him,
At the front door.
Bud fought to slow his heart.
Could a man not leave his shop–
His bank–an instant,
For a breath of air?
The feed store wasn’t far.
No one stopped by here
To shoot the breeze–
They gave banks the widest
Berth, skirted bankers like
The plague–fearing they’d
Stroll up to him,
Say howdy, and him say,
“Oh Rick, slipped my mind,
Next week we’re foreclosing
On your farm….”
As if a banking man
Was marked.
I won’t kowtow to him,
Bud resolved. I won’t.

“Well, Bud.”
Mr. Macklehouse was cordial.
“Guess I missed you, son.”
Watching expectantly
Through his round goldrim frames.
“Yes, sir. Couple boys there,
Questions on their loans.”
“I see.”
That was all was said.
Bud unlocked his books.
Morning was spent
Checking over them.

Bud ate lunch alone,
Inside the bank:
All I need, him catch me
Gone again.
Eating cold steak sandwich
At his desk,
He stared out
Behind the broad plate glass.
KNAB, it said, a blue arc
On the plane.
Bud reached fingers
Down inside his collar:
Patty bleached the whitest ones
In town.

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