Emile. . . .
‘Do come in,’ she motioned to the visitor.
‘Things are not straightened, but they will be shortly.’
The large home had seen numbers of people
marching through the hall; booming voices, woman whispers,
babies’ tears baptizing the walls and christening the marble.
The gentle woman swished quietly to lead the way;
her skirt evenly hemmed and velvet ribbon
threaded through the eyelet collar.
Her hair glistened with care and was piled
neatly in waves as gentle as she was.
‘Come this way,’ she said as they moved through
a group of people murmuring importantly.
‘They will be going shortly,’ she said.
‘These people won’t be here long. We will take
the table in the corner.’
And they made their way to the table
and looked at each other for the first time.
In her eyes she hoped the pity would not be evident.
Within a moment the guest knew it was. But Emile,
true to the cut of her coat, rejected and dismissed
what she saw.
‘The people here are not for long,’ Emile said.
‘The family has so many parties I cannot keep up. The house
is hardly large enough anymore to hold them all. But soon
it will be quiet. It is getting late and time for them to go.’
The rest of the visit was not a replay of times long gone;
no memory of dreams dreamed or books discussed. No
memory of philosophical turbulence enjoyed.
The guest in time stood up to leave.
‘Emile, it has been a wonderful visit. But I must get home
and see to dinner. We will do this more often.
With so much to do each day, we seldom have time to visit.’
And Emile led the way to the door, rounding the tables
like the lady of the house seeing to everyone’s comfort.
At the curb was a car waiting with a grey haired man
standing by. ‘Hi, Emile! Hope you and Mother
had a good visit. Sure do miss Alan and John now
that they’re gone. We were good buddies.’
Emile waved her hand and puzzled to her guest.
‘He looks familiar, but who is that old man? Is he
the grandfather of one of your children’s friends?’
The old friend took Emile’s hand and said,
‘he is my youngest son, Paul. You remember Paul.’
Emile smiled blankly and withdrew her hand.
‘No ,’ she said. ‘I only know you.’
And she thanked her friend for coming and
promised a neater home for the next visit.
She then firmly closed the door.
Her friend walked down the stairs.
Emile was right for the guests soon followed.
Paul took his mother’s hand and helped her to the car.
He looked at the imposing Home and whispered,
‘I wish we could afford such a place for you.
The Largess is the best retirement home in the state.
And we can only give you a room in our house.’
Sighing, ‘where to my lady?’
And in a clear voice allowing no nonsense, she roared,
‘home, Paul, home! To where I am no guest and do not tire
from using energy to keep a dream alive. Home, Paul, home.’
And the rest of the journey was straight on through.