289. Failed

Louise scanned their faces.
Her heart sank.

She heard no glad chatter,
No swapped tales of
Exploits: “I searched
Here, searched there…
We’d near lost hope….”
No. They avoided
One another’s eyes,
Glanced off
As if ashamed. They
Demanded nothing:
Not a cup of water,
Not a chair,
As if deserving
Nothing. They had failed.

Tom said,
“The ladies want to know
If you need help.
With her.”
Louise said no.
A voice inside her said,
Yes, help me hold a pillow
To her nose and
Mouth, let’s help her
Not to live her days out
Racked with grief
Each minute, help her
Die in peace, before
She hears the news.
Louise said simply: “No.”
Then as an afterthought–
“If they’re anxious–
Wash some rags.”
Tom nodded.

And what of him?–
Louise looked up with shock.
She’d never thought:
His son it was,
His wife.
And how was he?
At her inquiring frown,
He spoke: “…up that ridge,
And driving down the road,
And checking buildings–ain’t
Much, just a shed, was
Empty, we’ll go out again,
That’s sure, the wind had
Let up, but it picked up speed
Again, we drove as many ways
As could, and we honked
Horns, and some brought
Ropes, we tied them
To our waists, and
Fanned out, one would
Hold the fenceposts, so
They wouldn’t fall, and others
Cover ground, well,
After while they told me
We should break and
Come here, some were
Needing rest–not me–
They said, Tom,
Let’s quit now,
We’ll go back soon, sure
Will, start fresh.
Guess we’d been
Hours, out there, we could
Never tell, was this new
Ground, or old?
Can’t see, we’d
Wind sometimes in circles.
So that’s what we’ll do,
Start fresh, soon as they
Rest, they sort of
Talked me into it,
To come back here, but
Heck, it seems some
Clearer–‘You sit
Down now, Tom,’ they
Said, they said
We’d go right back–
But asked me as
A favor–you see?–
‘Come along.'”

She saw.

2 Responses to “289. Failed”

  1. Heidi Mordhorst Says:

    Hi, Shelley–

    I’m so so intrigued–by the the history, the details, the locale, the voices. I’ll be back for more. Thanks for visiting Poetry Friday this week!


  2. Mary Lee Says:

    It’s been awhile since I came and browsed. I’ll be home this coming week, spending time with my mom, an Eastern Colorado dust bowl survivor. I’ll show her your site. I’m sure she’ll love reading.

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