She darns her father’s socks without needing to watch her work. Just as well, for the kitchen is dim save for the light thrown by the old Argand lamp, a relic from her grandfather Benjamin Briggs’s time, a better time, a time she never knew. She feels the rough wool, the stick of her wooden needles as she weaves a net from shore to shore of the gaping hole. On the floor beside her, the pile of clothes needing mending is as high as her waist, but there is this: When her father is gone, the house is peaceful, and she and her mother never need speak of him.
Even so, he will be home soon. In the gloom of late afternoon, Mama’s face is melancholy and the blue of her eyes is that of a willow-painted plate, scrubbed too hard, too often.