264. At Home

Damn that Patty!
She had left a window open!
But which one?

The walls seemed
No longer solid–wind
Shrieked through.
Flattened to the floor, with
Matt, the girls, the baby
Pressed against his
Sides, he could not
See their faces, through
The pelting dirt–such
Dark! Just luck he’d
Come home early.
Struggling to his knees,
Bud shouted, “You stay
Here! I’ve got to see–” then
Heard they could not
Hear him–“Ow!” a thing
Careening, split
Against his cheek–
He bled–a vase?
A frame?

He grabbed their hands
And clasped them all together,
Left them in a huddle–
“Damn!” He tripped
On some low stool or table,
Jammed his chin
And bit his tongue–
“Damn!” Dust and blood.

He felt his way
Into another room–
And lost his bearings.
He’d turned right?
So he’d thought,
But was this–no?–
The kitchen? China,
Or some glass had shattered,
Crackling now beneath
His thick-soled shoes.

Holding up his hands
To shield his face,
He tried to glimpse–
“Damn!” Eyes were seared,
He rubbed them,
Bellowed like an animal–
It’s surely here,
The kitchen! He thought,
Yes! In here!
That window!

He charged,
Hooked his knee against
A chair, fell
To the floor, hands-first,
Then wiped his cut-up palms
Against his pants.
He pulled himself
Up to the counter,
Fumbling, grasping–
Window–where did–
Window–
Here!

He bore down on the sash
With all his weight–
It shut!–he slumped–
And did not break.

Bud strained his ears.
The swooping sounds outside,
The dust-swirled ramming–
Damn–
He swerved.
Matt?–
Matt, he’d heard?
The baby’s cry?

Damn that Patty.
He stumbled toward the hall,
To find the kids.

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