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The Visit Poem By Wesley McNair

The Visit Poem By Wesley McNair

We were at the camp, it must have been
some afternoon that summer
when your Aunt Ruth came back
from her stroke, because her mouth
looked skeptical, almost provocative,
as if she had suddenly achieved the role
of the great lady she’d spent a lifetime
preparing for. And I remember how,
with this new dignity, she turned
to Uncle Herb’s thought about the good
taste of beer on a hot day as if
he weren’t wearing Bermuda shorts
and wing-tipped shoes at all,
but a loincloth. How could he
have known that she meant, if he waited
a few respectful minutes, just one
would be OK, and what was more,
(the porch had got so hot, even
with the breeze), Aunt Ruth would feel
compelled to have one too? So,
what Herb came back with was beers
for everybody, even Ruth’s 80-
year-old sister, do you remember,
the one who was shrinking and said Oh,
because she liked the cheese
your mother brought out or the small flowers
on the TV tray or the wind that threatened
to blow her wide hat off? It didn’t,
of course, and when Ruth said No, no, no,
Herbert, we knew he could go on telling
what they did when they were younger,
because it had turned out to be
one of those wonderful days which had nothing
quite to do with wind or words. So Herb
just sat there, his white legs happy
to be free of pants, and talked—was it
about the wildest party, or how fast they drove
in his new car afterward? And while
they said they couldn’t stay, they stayed
until the last light rose into the tops
of the trees around us on the lake,
and the wind suddenly stopped,
and even Aunt Ruth said how nice
it had got. Perfection
is what almost doesn’t happen.

Wesley McNair
from The Town of No & My Brother Running

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