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Waiting


ISSUE:  Spring 1990
At the grocery store on a rainy July day
I pull in beside a family wagon with
Connecticut plates but no luggage—
summer people then, up for bright days
and cool nights, and local church fairs.
They may have been coming here for years.

Three little boys and a Golden Retriever
are steaming up the windows already smudged
by the dog’s nose. The smallest boy
pitches himself repeatedly over the seat,
arms and legs flying, like some rubbery toy.
From time to time the dog woofs distractedly.

Inside I look for their mother. And what
about their father—is he here too, or does he
come only on weekends and holidays
from Stamford, Farmington, or Darien?

There she is: of the right age, dressed
expensively, stiffly, carrying a straw
summer bag with a scrimshaw whale on the lid,
a hard little basket out of which she draws
two large bills for the food. Clearly
this time she’s come alone.

She will fill the cottage cupboards
and refrigerator, settle the boys
on the sleeping porch with one bunk bed
and one cot, and arbitrate the annual fight
over who gets to sleep on top.

And she will wait. Life is odd. . . .
I too am waiting, though if you asked
for what, I wouldn’t know what to say.

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