• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 04
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We Picked a Bad Time

She has come from the kitchen
(still in her pinafore)
to join him. He has pulled on
his coat, dignity enough
to meet whoever we might be:
company or intruders.

His eyes are fixed on me; I
shift position awkwardly
to ease the discomfort
of his piercing, rock-sharp
stare, but I cannot shift

enough to shake them
loose. In the periphery
of my vision, I escape
to wonder at the perfection
of the tiny stitches, each
precisely the same length,

that fix the strip of white
rickrack to the top of her
brown pinafore so that it
lies flat against the somber
black of her everyday-best


We Picked a Bad Time

dress. I marvel at the sunlight
curling the single tress
that's come undone and fallen
free from the severity of her
coiffure. The same sunlight
that gives the three

tips of his pitchfork a well-
used, sharp-and-ready glow.
What was she doing in
the downstairs kitchen at
that moment when we first

came into sight? Why, before
she came out, did she take
time to draw the blind? I want
to turn my face away from her
husband's gaze, turn to where

you stand beside me on my
right, clothes-pinned in place
by her forget-me-not eyes. It
seems clear we will not be
asked to come in and take


We Picked a Bad Time

a seat, clear we won't be offered
tea. I want to turn my head
and see if you, too, have ceased
to smile, have begun to wonder
if we'll be allowed to leave.