4. The Sick Room: Outdoors

From down the road,
Anyone could see it–
Trouble home.
Windows lit,
And kerosene was dear.
Neighbors driving past,
They might turn in.
From the road, the house
Beamed raggedly, beckoned
Like a jack-o’-lantern
In the night.

Passers-by might
See the doctor’s car.
Might go to the door.
“Evening, Tom.
You need help here?” Or,
Strange to them, times
Being what they were,
They might first think twice
And drive away,
Seeing their own bill-pile
Home, doctor’s bills
That got so hard to pay.
What Tom needs, they’d figure,
We can’t give.
And leave.

But no cars passed by.
The hour was late. Long ago
The moon rose, and had set.
Shadows flitted windows,
Crossed and paused,
Settled down.
Deserted road: no
Business in the dark.

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6 Responses to “4. The Sick Room: Outdoors”

  1. Gene Says:

    “Times being what they were”–a bit like times now perhaps. The Dust Bowl era has always interested me. It will be interesting to see how these characters cope with hard times and to compare them to how people are coping presently.

  2. sshaver Says:

    Gene, I agree. I think every present-day historian of the 1930’s in the nation needs to be out there telling us what we need to know now!

  3. Ann Rothschild Says:

    Gene’s idea of comparing sounds very intesting–a potential class exercise–students could do their own family poem with the details of their household.

  4. sshaver Says:

    Yes, unfortunately, the economic crisis going on right now is evocative of that other Great Depression. I never thought that would happen when I was writing this.

  5. Frances Madeson Says:

    I don’t know exactly how to break this to you but your talent is outsized. You’re ferocious.

  6. sshaver Says:

    Interesting word choice, so I’ll take it up: the people in these poems, people who have had the economic rug pulled out from under them, are ferocious for survival, in the quietest, most self-possessed way. Part of the challenge for them is to do that without losing all gentleness.

    And thanks.

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