288. 3 p.m. April 15

Jarred awake–
A blast of wind,
Louise jerked up–
“What–” open
Door. And then
A figure, tall, bandana
On its face. Now untied:
Tom. She: “What–”
Still groggy, muzzy,
Reeling on her knees….

He dropped beside.
“She don’t look good.
She’s breathing awful bad–”
“She’s breathing?” And
Louise swooped down, hands
Fumbling, trembling
For a pulse–
The wind swept–
“Close the door!”
“Not yet.”

At that–
She found the pulse, and
Looked up–
She caught sight
Of yet another figure,
Stomping off its dust-red boots,
The leather torn–Roy
Ennis, eighty if a day. And
By him, raveled sweater
Round his face, but now
Unwrapping, tiny Mr. Bitts, and
With him, Mrs. Bitts,
Coat buttoned high. Stumbling
Through the doorway, their
Hired hand, Juan Ray, bundled
Loose in snatched-up clothes
To cut the wind.

After, Odell Wermer, him
Without a coat, but
Clutching raveled cloths
Bound at his throat.
And coughing, Bud, and Chet,
And Mr., Mrs. Green, and
Vern Karns too–
The Hanks twins, too slow
For school, now towering,  holes
Up to pockets in their pants. Shaking
Shreds of quilt she’d used to shield
Her face, Miss Wilkins wiped
Her lips. Gibb the tenant farmer,
Barefoot, with his roommate
William, all were trailing wraps
Behind them, spreading
Through the rooms,
The kitchen–more kept
Shuffling through the door.
From the porch
And through the hall,
They coughed and spat….

“I’ll be damned,” Louise said.
“It’s the posse.”

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