She could never forgive him, for what he didn’t say
Seattle rain oozing down the window, pooling in a corner,
as she sat staring, waiting. Waiting for what? For the rain drop?
For a noise? A sound? Something to say that the world existed,
that she existed, here in the House-without-Him?
Thick cotton sweater the color of smog, gray-brown-white mottled.
Stretched by age and wear until the pockets were just out of reach,
until the fake leather patches fell somewhere around her wrist.
He’d loved that sweater, when they’d bought it.
“My first old-man sweater!” He’d picked her up, swung her around.
She’d laughed, holding on to him, the bright colors of the bazaar
reflected in his glasses until he seemed the center of the world,
the linch-pin of her life. So when had it broken?
An ambulance siren dopplering into the distance,
lights picked up and held by the rain, and then gone.
Her nose and mouth are clogged with the memories
smell of antiseptic and disinfectant, and under it all…death.
Death of hopes, death of dreams, death of…love?
Had it been there? Or after…when the long gray days
stretched into months, and months into one interminable
year? Quiet voices, talking, talking, outside the bedroom door.
Regret…medicine…physically whole…give her time…
Time. In time, she remembered how to do it.
How to show the one face, and keep the other to yourself.
How to be once again what he said he wanted.
Twenty years, split in the middle like a lightning struck pine.
On one side, bright healthy rings of time, joys and sorrows.
On the other, beyond the gulf, only silence and pain,
walking muffled through life behind the mask.
What could have happened? When did the mask slip?
Or did it? Perhaps he had never been fooled,
or perhaps…just perhaps…
he had a mask of his own?