292. 7 p.m. April 15: Home

Tom had seen Louise
Place Riah’s hand.
He had watched her
Labor over Riah,
Singlemindedly: she’d hardly
Slept, nor eaten, these past
Days. He’d watched her
Handed rags–the mute
Transactions she acknowledged
With a nod.
He was thinking,
What’d she ever do to me?

James slept,
And Riah, too. Tom:
“Put him to bed?”
“I think so,” said Louise.
Her voice was forced;
She gestured raggedly,
A whisper. “These folks–
Safe for them to go?
What’s out there, anyhow?”
Surprised at her request,
And so urgent, Tom asked:
“She’s not better?”
“No. Oh–”
Louise shook her head–
“A little.
Not enough.
I think…
We’ll need some
Room. I can’t
Concentrate, and her, she
Don’t like crowds.”
Tom paused to
Listen, judge the wind.
“It’s just a storm,” he said.
“The worst one,
None like that.
So much a storm, don’t
Look like one.
But it’s let up,
Past hour.
They could go.”

She half-heard how he
Hadn’t questioned her.
He went to tell them.
They’d come back
Tomorrow, they said.
Fine: they’d bring some
Food, and linens, too.
They’d drive away
Together, like a wagon train
To keep all safe.
They filed out,
Grasping Thomas’ hand.

More than a few of them
Stole to the bedroom,
Hushed, and leaned in
For a final glimpse at
James. At his
Breath, they breathed easily,
At last.
No need for thanks:
One of their own,
Brought home.

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