Poem: Maureen, the Pied Cow, and the Fire in the Woodshop

Maureen, the Pied Cow, and the Fire in the Woodshop

We had only recently met
And you showed me that place
Made me learn to like black olives
We ate a whole plate of them
Slices of feta helped them down
We had coffee and we enjoyed
The talk that new-found friends employ
Every thing in the room was a different color
I remember liking you, liking that place

In a former life I worked in a woodshop
That caught fire one day at lunchtime
We were too far down the road to see the smoke
Returned belly-full from a slow service restaurant,
Dust rising from behind the truck as we
Sped toward the shop,
The black plume now visible rising from the
Back of the building
We grabbed what we could, which wasn’t much
And all I remember was leaving, weeping,
Incapable of helping
All not touched by flame or water was
Wasted by smoke
And for years that smell, or anything that neared it
Filled me with nausea

I tried a couple of times
To go back to that place with the black olives
I was determined to appreciate them
The windows were black, the rooms were dark,
And I was determined to understand
I found that note on the door
Heard that story sigh from lips
Each told the tale of the crime
I looked again at the black windows
Smelled the smoke in my sinuses
And felt that specific heartache,
That nebulous loss

© Eileen Ridge