286. 7 a.m., Monday April 15

Louise walked across the room,
Lifted the curtain.
“Where the hell’s the sun?”
She began to shiver,
Held her arms: “Suppose
The town’s blown gone?
Suppose they’ve choked to death.
Or maybe they all left….
They knew and ran…..Damn!
Lord knows I don’t ask
Much. But for the sun
Not to disappear, that
I require….”

When Louise checked,
Riah’s eyes were empty.
Louise, wiping hands off,
Rubbed at Riah’s wrists:
“You know when this
Began? When that
God-damn garden you slaved on
Out back, it up and
Died. Oh yes, I saw you
Digging, feeble-minded ninny,
Shoring shrunk-down melons,
Wrinkly vines, building
Shades for your tomatoes,
Washing off the bean-pods
With wet rags!”

She leaned closer,
Her breath coming short.
“That garden! It irked me
From the start. Don’t have
Nothing pretty! Only food.
I said, put Canterbury Bells,
Some Prickly Poppies, Sweet Alyssum,
Cream-cups, Sundrops, or
Farewell-to-Spring. Put some
Chamomile or Mint, we’ll
Rinse our hair. We’ll spice our
Coffee–Chicory. Hell, grow
Nasturiums–then eat them,
If you like! But no….”

Louise’s hands, dust-starched,
Had cracked with rubbing
Into tiny cuts, sore
Slits that got pulled open,
Broke with blood. “Messy.
Where’s your sewing basket?”
Lid flipped,she fished out
A lump of beeswax.
With the candle, she dripped
Wax in yellow patches
On her skin:

Sealed her cuts,
Then bent again.

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