You left us quietly,
an open window, a love note, a door ajar.
Mother called and I was already waking
from a half-sleep, when she said it I tried to
keep from biting down on the bathroom tile.
I won’t know how long it took you
but it was
for my hair to all turn gray,
my bones to turn to ash in the sheets,
my husband to sift through the mess and find me,
pull me close.
I curled like paper to a flame,
tied a silk ribbon around my lungs and
tried my best to keep the night quiet.
I was searching the ceiling expecting to see you there
like some death novel, a holy farewell before
you were smoked out like a criminal.
In the hospital I held your face
like an heirloom.
You kissed my cheek
like I’d done good and I felt
me grow a little older.
I am wearing at my fingers
like skipping stones from our mountain days
so I won’t forget
how your skin felt in my hands
with life still behind it.
I’ll keep busy,
learning to tie knots in my heart
to fill the void,
to keep from aging.
you’ll pour a glass and
open the curtain
from time to time
if only to check,
if only to whisper hello
with a smile.