Under the House

The old man and me, we was out the other day clearing brush from under the house.
We don't want no house fire,
not after the McKinley's lost they house 'bout a month or more back.
Sad tragedy that. They had three dogs and a son that
was lost in that blaze. Could feel it for a mile 'round.

But we was under the house, like we usually is,
chippin and clearin. Ma was upstairs. We could hear her feet
tip-tappin like some giant dancer or that telegraph machine that
makes it so's we can talk to one another from across the country.
Why anyone would want to do that, I don't know.
Ain't nobody there but Yanks anyways.

But, she were up there, tip-tapping, dancing like Ginger Rogers,
we could tell because that's what she does when she's baking,
and dad gets this look on his face. He gets this look like he's just finished
painting the barn doors. I look at him funny, and he says to me, he says,
"That woman..." and shakes his head.

I know ma and pa sometimes get into it real good. Last year,
pa threw a chair out the window. Shattered the window right.
There was glass on the floor for months. But, he ain't never laid a hand on ma.
He knows I wouldn't let that happen. But, still, the chair went out the window
and I spent the summer trying to put the chair back together.
Pa left for a coupla days, came back smellin like whiskey,
which was his poison of choice, of course. He's a Kentucky man.
Things been strange for the past few weeks, but it ain't my place to be
buttin in to another's life, even if it is my pa.

"That woman," he says to me again. "She is just about the dumbest woman
I know." And before he lets me open my mouth he says, he tells me,
"She and I are separatin. Thought you should know."

Well, he done told me. Guess I should know.
We cleared the brush from under the house in 'bout three hour.
Then, pa packed his shirts, pressed (ma did that while we was under the house),
and he left. She looked at me as his truck left a trail of dusty ol' tire marks
and the smell of woodsmoke, and she says "you don't have to stay neither."
Well, I looks at her and says, "if it ain't broke," and I got back to the chair
I was rebuildin.


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