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The Servant

by Knute Skinner

He watched her shake the rain
from her coat and scarf,
the fine drops spattering
the floor of the entry.
She handed the coat to me,
and together they walked in
to the drawing room fire.

I could have told him it would end like this.
No fear of her not coming back.
Not with summer just around the corner
and the old man mad as ever about her.

Not my problem of course.
I hung up her coat and went back to my kitchen.

I could see them plain in my head
as I scrubbed the pots.
He’d have his forefingers hooked behind his back,
and she’d be poking at all those books on the shelves.
She’d only laugh at him if he asked
how she’d gotten on.

I sat down and wiped my face on a cloth.
I was hot from leaning over
the basin of water.
The rain beat hard on the shut window,
and the pain was there in my side.
When the old man came down,
they’d want their tea.


Taken from ‘Roughly Speaking’ (1991), page 30.

Knute Skinner

The Bottom of the Fifth