The members are in the next room –
Oprah-inspired, a women’s book-club.
Last week, it was Jane Austen.
This week, Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy was one thing,
But our avid readers found themselves
clutching little Topsy, out on cracking ice,
falling through before they reached the last page.
I sit alone in the twenty first century
while they struggle with the nineteenth,
I sip coffee. They take tea with the proper English.
I crack my knuckles. They dodge the whip
of Simon Legree.
I hear a high-pitched voice cry out,
“Could we try something a little more modern
for next week’s get-together.”
It’s followed by a low hush.
Is that low rumble my next door neighbor’s
lawnmower or long dead authors turning
over in their grave.
Someone suggests Edna Ferber.
Another says, “Why not Gertrude Stein?”
They had me worried for a moment.
I thought they might plump for an author
whose heart is still beating.
Discussion ended, all head for the door,
hug and kiss my wife, each other.
The words “Reflection In A Golden Eye”
and “Carson McCullers” are on everybody’s lips.
The living are eschewed.
The dead can breathe easy.