283. Roaming

“I got to stretch my legs.”
Louise snatched up a candle,
Rose unsteadily,
Tripped on a chair.

She wandered
Five steps to the kitchen.
Lifting up her candle,
She eyed every shelf, the random
Items, scattered details
Meaningless. Five blue
Bowls, lined with
Precision, large to small.
A jagged teacup.
Someone–Louise squinted–
Someone’d tried to fix it,
Glued a chip.

A paper scrap–
She held it near the flame–
A recipe: “Bread Pudding
Without Bread. Moms,
Hear them Lick Their Lips! Mix
Fourth a cup of cornstarch….”
She stopped reading.
Then a clipping, folded
Neatly by itself:
“How To Curl Your Hair
The Easy Way–”
She crumpled it.
She’d given Riah that.

By cautious steps, she
Crossed a braided rug
And paused to peer inside
The bedroom. Ragged
Mattress. Nearby,
Riah’s dresser.
Louise tugged a drawer.
One pair of underpants,
Patched, clean;
A hairbrush.
Drawer below as empty.
And the next.
The closet, with no
Door–Tom’s overalls
Hung by a nail, seat
Patched with flowered cloth.
Must cost him grief,
She thought.
She tried the bed.

That’s why we all get blowed,
Get blowed away:
Because we don’t own
Nothing, Louise thought.
Not enough to tack us down,
To give us weight,
To hold on to. So
The wind blows, and
A couple shirts and bowls,
They hit the air–
We’re gone.
But not that Patty Hines,
She has that giant icebox,
That piano….
Her life weighs a ton.
Can’t blow away.
Except, it can.
I seen it once, a fancy
Car that crashed a wall.
And all the handsome
Shoes that they had on,
All the laces that they’d tied,
Bows and diamond clips:
Feet dead as ice.
Our shoes outlast us,
Even so.

Louise laughed.
She walked back to the hall.
“That must be James’.”
A corner room,
A quilt.
“Those ladies! They’ll quilt
Lining for his
Coffin”–but she
Did not like that room.
Rooms of the dead.
Leave them alone. A sudden
Urge to run–she
Jerked the door:
Don’t want to look at that.
Nor see his stuff.
I must check
Riah….Wavering, the candle
Guttered. Leave! I
Want to see her, so I won’t
See him.

A quick step back
She took, shut
Tight the door.
I look at her, so
I don’t have to
Look.

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