Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)
TITLE: Color us Laughing
By Janice Cartwright
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
if asked I’d have answered, “It’s only okay.”
ECRU, it said, across the top of the can:
it began with my mother-in-law’s plan.
“Ya’ll need to save, honey, come live in our cottage:
there’s a bulb in the ceiling, don’t use much wattage.
Won’t cost you a dime, you can live rent free,
save up lots of money, and be close to me.”
(It looked like a pretty good deal:
she would always be good for a meal.)
Shouldn't take very long to move all our stuff;
we didn’t have much, but more than enough
to fill the small space, one bedroom is all:
kitchenette - and a bath, little more than a stall.
The first day she came, maybe twenty-three times,
“You’ll be wanting my help,” she was quick to remind.
I must have needed her more the next day-
needed numerous visits to help ‘put away.’
The third day I longed for some time alone,
but here she came; I tried not to groan.
“A little something to brighten your days:”
red plastic flowers in a papier-mâché vase.
One night my husband and I planned a tryst:
I made us tall drinks, with lemon: a twist,
switched off the one light: it must have been ten
when the door flew open, “Mind if I come in?”
I guess after that the weeks were a blur
of comings and goings and always, HER.
“These walls,” one day she looked up and down,
“need a good coat of paint; let’s go to town.”
She had some bucks, but only a few,
I had not a penny, so there was nothing to do
but just go along and try not to wince –
and wish for a very high fence.
With only six dollars to spend we must shop;
after two gallons we made ourselves stop.
“I’ve got brushes and rollers and pans galore,”
she smiled, awfully pleased. “No need to buy more.”
We began in the bath, or booth I should say:
pried open the lid, poured paint in the tray.
Down in the liquid I lowered my brush;
she’d use the roller – to clean we could flush.
She stood on the tub, poised on the lip:
I balanced the roller pan, top of my hip.
The two of us both could reach it from there,
We’d take turns dipping: a roller-pan share.
But soon I grew tired of that unwieldy load;
so I shifted the tray to the nearby commode.
But I failed to warn her - Rose was her name -
she was coating at her wall, while I did the same.
We stood back to back, nearly hinny to hinny,
I was painting away - all sudden, a whinny.
(No, I didn’t invent that sound just to rhyme:
‘tis the best way to tell what I heard at the time.)
A foot in the pan; to get down Rose was trying:
the roller tray flipped, ecru color went flying-
covered her, covered me, covered all in sight,
spattered all the way up to that singular light.
Well, it took quite a while to wipe such a mess,
but ‘twas during that time (I have to confess),
I learned to love Rose, because she never got mad,
Only laughed ‘til she cried – first laugh we ever had.
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