Next day he took Ruby home for as long
as she wanted to be with him. She stayed
a week at a time, then he’d drive her back.
They went back and forth like that. Mama’s house,
that he built for her, could be Ruby’s now
but Ruby had her own house, close to the city.
Back then Clyde would quit working in the room
he’d built by Drusilla's bed, drive to the city
Fort Smith. He told her in his smoky voice,
Mama, I’ve got to go there for supplies,
to buy a toilet assembly, a bath
with tub and shower–all for her old age
after almost eighty years of outhouse
through the pasture gate with its Monkey Ward
and Sears Roebuck wish-books to wipe off with.
While away he would look in on Ruby
in Van Buren, check on her and their son.
He would stay for dinner. They might make love
when the boy slept, and then Clyde would drive off,
be home by midnight so Mama could sleep.
This was the only highway now to Fort Smith.
He’d be nigh on eighty himself, Mama long gone,
by time the freeway was in. He married
the widow Juil rather than live alone.
She had her own family. Then she died.
Ruby’s son–Clyde called him his–had grown up,
gone off to New York, wrote for magazines
and papers, then taught college many years
until his heavy body’s heart killed him.
Ruby hugged Clyde close, they made up lost time
until she said, Honey, I’m too old now
to have another baby. He knew that,
he said, I just wish we could have lived together,
that Mama would’ve stopped her suspicions
and let me be with you like a man would.
When I told her once about you, she said
she knew I was fooling around with whores.
When you called she called you that on the phone,
remember? Ruby said, Clyde, hush your talk
and make me happy, I’m growing old fast.
(1-2 November 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander