In The Days That Follow (published in Deep South Magazine 2014)
Gravity pulled color from the Irises
into soil so heavy the garden became a pond of mud
where cardinals flailed their wings and died.
You watched from the kitchen window
your breath in the June morning air
fogging the glass
your tears filling the sink.
Tonight you would not feel the long bones of his legs
and thin skin of his knees bumping against yours,
would not warm to the outline of his body
nor hear the gentle click of the bathroom light switch at 2 am
or feel the comforting rock of the mattress as he repositions himself.
But in the days that follow
the soil would return color to the Irises
birds would come to nest and feed
and the old hickory would raise its branches in victory
against a backdrop of great Smokey Mountains.
You’ll admire its stoic resiliency
seeing your own path in its branches.
The years with him play out in your thoughts
reel after reel of life
good and fine and rich in its tapestry.
And even the few hurts and regrets
small as grains of sand
are wrapped and polished into pearls.
And in the glare of a summer sunrise
breaching in slow motion like a giant yellow Orca
you can sometimes see him
sitting in the chair by the window
the soft sound of the morning paper being pressed and folded
as straight and deliberate as the crease in his trousers
as welcoming and loved as the warm heaviness of his hand in yours.