by Leonard Kress
Patricia taught us everything about politics and the working class. She moved into our communal house after a year in Nepal and a year in Queens, organizing women who worked in textile mills — agitating for longer breaks, higher pay, recourse against the sons of bosses. More than once, she was cuffed by her own Irish father-cop, her bullhorn confiscated as she was gassed and beaten whenever his precinct mates showed up before him. At night she wandered through our hallways naked, her long brown hair adrift in the drafty rooms, dusting the carved banister as she mounted the stairs, reassessing the day’s failure to make inroads with management. The young lawyers hired by the mills (some whose mothers worked in those same mills to put them through law school) would beg to see her far from the barricades, take her out afterwards for a steak and a drink. And she’d agree, sometimes, after which she’d return home late, flushed, indulged, and would cast off her heels and plunge out of her dark dress, slumping onto the old couch, as the whole house listened to her dispatches from the barricades or the boardrooms. Then, seeming to be rallied, she began to rummage beneath the cushions for the marbles a housemate’s son had failed to gather into his leather pouch. The most effective defense, she’d declare, against riot police on horseback.
Leonard Kress has published fiction and poetry in Missouri Review, Massachusetts Review, Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, etc. His recent collections are The Orpheus Complex, Thirteens, and Walk Like Bo Diddley. Live in the Candy Store and his new verse translation of the Polish Romantic epic Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz are both scheduled for 2018. He teaches philosophy and religion at Owens College in Ohio, USA, and edits creative non-fiction for Artful Dodge.