66. After Louise

How did it happen?
She sat in the kitchen.
The smell of solution
Strung the air.

How did it happen
She was never done?
The dishes were unwashed.
With all the food fried,
Grease braided the pots–
Chunks clung inside,
Flakes left from the fire.
The stove, sullen,
Rancid with its scum.

Riah calculated. It was three.
By five, could be clean.
Then, time to cook again.
Supper dishes took the evening.
Tom would come in
Trailing grass and clods.
Mopping must be postponed
Till tomorrow,
Giving her a tardy start.
James would be home soon–
That changed her time.
Wanting scissors, answers,
Twine, or milk, he
Slowed her down.

In a mere two days,
Wash day once more.
She’d iron, not at night
Next time, till noon.
First she’d do the fields,
Then do the mending.
Scrub the cupboards up. She’d
Found leavings inside,
Maybe mice. Cooking
Cut hunks from the day,
Scouring pans–
She must tend them now.

Of course, she thought,
Seasons are that way,
The same, endless
Circle, spring and fall.
But at least they’re
Slower, and now and then,
There was a crop to sell.
Not like doing
Same chores every week,
Each day, one, the next….
Shades of afternoon
Fell toward her face.
She leaned on her hand.

Serves me right:
My punishment. Let me–
Play, she almost said–
Someone new comes–
I’m not content then
To work as I should.
After all–
She frowned at her own folly–
Why complain?
There are only certain things,
And only those, to do,
With clothes, food, dishes,
With a house.
How else?

Better do some now,
She thought, rising,
Moving briskly to the sink.

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