268. Coming and Going

Bud is dead, and Matt is dead,
The baby’s dead–
I’m sure of it, thought Patty,
And that Tom
Won’t make it back.
It’s been too long.
Here I am, the wrong place
At the wrong time.
They’re all dead,
Because of me.
What’s wrong with me?
Why couldn’t I be happy?
Finding fault, that’s
All I ever did!
Complain! Me, with the best,
The finest husband,
And the dearest children,
And ten pairs of shoes–

Car! A car?
She jumped up, knocked
A candle to the floor,
And stamped it out.
Who could hear some help,
In this inferno?
Since Tom left, ghost-white
Beneath his grime,
Her ears had fooled her
Cruelly, time and
Time again–She’d
Think: a car,
A car!
But no one came.

She clasped her hands: O God,
Please send out–there!–
The porch, a stumbling!–
Knocking, pounding,
Knock–a person, or
The storm?
Patty whispered: “Lord–”
The door burst open.

Flat down to the floor,
Two figures fell,
And coughing,
Struggled to their feet,
Grit howling through.

“Holy shit!”
That voice: Patty
Flinched. “Now–give
The key here,” Patty said.
“I’m going in that car.
You want the doctor?”

“Doctor’s gone”: the voice.
Patty snatched the key,
Shoved through them
Toward the porch.
“Can you drive? It’s–” Tom asked.
“Yes!
Of course I can!”
And it was then
She heard the word
She did not want to hear.
Tom, asking questions–
“James?”–
“Our north strip,
Plowing!”, Patty
Cried, then
Out the door.

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