252. Waiting

And here they were,
Their families left in town–
“Be right back”–
So not to witness
Possible disgrace.
Here they were, nineteen
Or twenty cars that faced
Each other, lined
Along the dirt farm road,
Headlamps with trembling
Beams from autos
Rickety and black,
That chugged in place.
Leaving engines running,
Men stepped out.
Dust hissed by,
But let up, now and then.
The road, at least
Was lit;
It surely was.

“Velma’s gone to tell him,”
Roy had said.
“He’ll radio them where.
We stay put here.”
Inwardly, they groaned.
To make an ass of oneself
While in action,
That was one thing.
But to be an ass
While sitting, waiting–
Twiddling thumbs–
Minutes ticked by–
Doing nothing:
This was stuff
That state-wide tales were made of.
Down in Austin–
Off in Dallas, Houston–
Wherever men would gather,
Telling stories,
They’d be goats, they knew,
If no plane came.

Gusts of dirt.
“Well, boys,”
Someone spoke up,
“Guess my uncle will be
Coming ‘long here soon.
Just saw his farm go by.”
They smiled, irritably:
The old jokes. A gale
Ballooned their shirts.
“Hey Roy,
Ever hear the one
About the pilot who bailed out
Above the duster? Good luck,
Took a shovel,
Dug his way to earth.”
They laughed uproariously
At the  joke.

Odell Wermer
Drove up in his truck.

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