She was married to a man I never saw.
I worked where she worked,
the Toppenish office
of Washington State Employment’s
She worked in the back, out of sight.
Little wonder I never saw her husband.
I worked at the window, taking claims.
We dallied during coffee breaks.
She had red hair, dyed, she admitted.
She was full-blood Nez Perce.
It was her sense of humor I loved.
I thought she was cracking a joke
saying So-and-So went the one-way sleep.
Vivian Benz. She asked all about college.
I was learning to write poems, I declared.
She told me one in her native language.
I can’t repeat it here, I don’t remember
what I never knew, how to find her words.
It was about this: She went to the river
and found a diver who pulled her under.
Under what? I said. She stood and walked
to fill her cup. Under him, she said.
That’s what he said, it’s what he did.
We never talked, he was a two-face, one
who makes you laugh, then cry, he gave
me a baby and I ran away, I walked
not ran, I was on my way, one way, to sleep.
(24 September 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander