Arthur Won't Be Coming Home This Year Poem by The Poet SPIEL

Arthur Won't Be Coming Home This Year

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Arthur Won't Be Coming Home This Year

Elsie's meringue weeps more than she'd like. She hasn't lost her touch for turning it the perfect golden nor stacking it a proud four inches deep. She hopes one of her grandkids will drop by for a slice of her lemon pie on the way home from school. Rolly is her favorite — he takes the time to admire her rare collection of black glass knick-knacks. She has so little left to her name. Her kids sold off the farm and most of her possessions to pay bills when Arthur passed — then moved her into this tiny shoebox house.

They'd said:
It's big enough, Mother. Grandpa won't be coming home
no more.

Arthur won't be coming home this year — or next.

Elsie wakes each morning thinking she's been robbed.
What's happened to her coal pail, her pitchfork, her mess of
baling wire for fixing things? She devotes her time to marking everything she possesses. She embroiders Elsie on her undergarments, scribbles it on every card in her Canasta deck — even manages to scratch it into her kitchen dishes.
Though one might well expect to find the odd lard smear here
or there in anyone's cookbook, in Elsie's Household Searchlight Recipe Book, the recipes are suffocated by her scribbled name and on one page, she's written, Had one cookbook stolen, want it back. She grinds her name in lipstick on the back screendoor. She carves it into the oak arm of Arthur's platform rocker as she stares dumb-eyed at her snowy TV screen.

Arthur won't be coming home this year — or next. Or next.
He pure and simple will not be coming home.

And then she starts another pie.

If one of the grandkids doesn't show up, she will dump it in the
backyard — then watch the squirrels make a meringue circus of themselves. She whistles Swing Low Sweet Chariot just to while the time. And one of these days, she needs to get around to finishing scratching her name on every page of her Bible. The paper is too skinny to write on. It rips when she applies pressure with her pencil; and when she uses her blue fountain pen, the ink blobs and musses her dress.

What the heck did her gawldarn kids do with her Mickey? She hopes they did not dump him in a shelter with other caste-off doggies. What's the life of a dead man's wife living in a shoebox without something that needs her to care?

She wouldn't be in this predicament if Arthur hadn't passed.

She's afraid to ask one of her sons, one more time, to try to fix
the snowy screen on her TV. Maybe it's just her eyes and she'll need to spend pennies she doesn't have on new glasses. She's so angry, she drops her favorite heavy brown Ovenware bowl. One less bowl — and this was the one that had been the most difficult to scratch her name into. Her upper lip rattles — oozes shiny balls of sweat — then goes hard.

She prays if she ever makes it to the other side, she won't
bump into Arthur.

_____The Poet SPIEL

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