Can’t Find Her Purse

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is CAN’T.

This is such a bendable word. CAN’T may means “I’m not able to…” CAN’T may mean “I’m not allowed to….” (Remember teachers of years gone by pointing out CAN NOT versus MAY NOT?)
CAN’T may be stretched to mean “I won’t, so drop it!” or we may use CAN’T as a brush off because I don’t want to bother. And there’s the temporary kind of CAN’T that affects us all from time to time.
Since this humorous verse by Edgar Guest echoes one of my theme songs at this point in my life, “I can’t remember,” it will be my response to the prompt.

THE LOST PURSE

I remember the excitement and the terrible alarm
that worried everybody when William broke his arm
and how frantic Pa and Ma got only just the other day
when they couldn’t find the baby ‘cause he’d up and walked away,
but I’m sure there’s no excitement that our house has ever shook
like the times Ma can’t remember where she’s put her pocketbook.

When the laundry man is standing at the door and wants his pay
Ma hurries in to get it, and the fun starts right away.
She hustles to the sideboard, cause she knows exactly where
she can put her hand right on it — but alas! It isn’t there.
She tried the parlor table and she goes upstairs to look
and once more she can’t remember where she put her pocketbook.

She tells us that she had it just a half an hour ago,
and now she cannot find it though she’s hunted high and low;
she’s searched the kitchen cupboard and the bureau drawers upstairs,
and it’s not behind the sofa nor beneath the parlor chairs.
She makes us kids get busy searching every little nook,
and this time says she’s certain that she’s lost her pocketbook.

She calls Pa at the office and he laughs, I guess, for then
she always mumbles something ‘bout the heartlessness of men.
She calls to mind a peddler who came to the kitchen door
and she’s certain from his whiskers and the shabby clothes he wore
and his dirty shirt and collar that he must have been a crook,
and she’s positive that fellow came and got her pocketbook.

But at last she always finds it in some queer and funny spot,
where she’d put it in a hurry and had somehow clean forgot;
and she heaves a sigh of gladness and she says, “Well, I declare,
I would take an oath this minute that I never put it there.”
And we’re peaceable and quiet till next time Ma goes to look
and finds she can’t remember where she put her pocketbook.

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

 

5 thoughts on “Can’t Find Her Purse

    1. Yeah. If they know what you mean, why can’t (as in won’t) they leave it at that? 😉
      The other one that gets mentioned is “well” versus “good.” If you say I’m good, you may hear, “I’m asking about your health, not your moral condition.”

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