Marbles

Marbles

13 February 2015

DIRTY LAUNDRY

“He’s dead,” she said.

“Yes, he died of cancer.
I heard about it.
Did you know him?”

“I knew of him, mostly.”       

He was not her sort,
Therefore she tried to recall
All she could.
This was intrigue to her.

Three at the kitchen table
In the cupboard across,
The cherished wedding china displayed,
Green scrollwork on white background.
This visitor next to me
Had an air of elegance,
But which elegance?
Trait or pretence?

She continued:
“Once in a while
I’d run into him at a coffee shop.”
 “What did you think of him?”
She narrowed her eyelids,
Thought,
Answered:

“He was somewhat of a rascal,
I considered him a reprobate,
He cursed a lot, tough guy slang.”
“I don’t remember 
Cursing or slang,” I said.

“How could you remember that,
You were so young!”
This from our hostess,
As she poured coffee into porcelain cups
Green scrollwork on white background.

“He had a mistress,
She was young,  
He bought her a car
They say he paid her rent, also.”

Our hostess poured cream, offered sugar.
“Sounds as though he kept her,” she said.
An old friend,
She guessed why, my curiosity.
“What did his wife think?”
I asked.
“Nothing to think.  She put up with it.”

“What happened to the girls?”
I always worried about those
Two daughters of his.
It was hilarious.
They never passed the
Entrance exam.
The son of a bitch
Wanted them to attend
My school.
I worried for their safety, though.
“Did he still carry a knife?”
I didn’t ask.

I was happy to hear
What the visitor said.
Even with limited information,
I felt avenged 
Because it showed, his nature.
He was a
Slick
Crafty
Knave.
It’s been almost half a century.
Have I lived that long?

When I think of
Those late afternoons
During childhood

His presence hovering,
My state of confusion,
Hands smothering panic

I start to believe
I’ve lived long enough.
Hang it up, hang it up,
Filthy shard of an old
China cup.
Spectral memories
Coiled in the background,
Hang it up, they hiss.

The three of us had coffee,
Hot, strong.
Late June
Late afternoon
The cool, Sunday breeze
Inviting after
Saturday’s wedding,
And we guests tired
From the night before.

I live in the margins of life. 
Those nightmares,
What did I survive them for?