The rain that began
sometime during the afternoon
has quieted and the evening sky is clear;
a click from Daryl’s tongue about now
would have you running
across the room and up to his forehead
where long broad strokes would focus
on his forehead and the hollows of his eyes.
Only your blue Fiesta bowl
received more attention;
in a house full of hefty appetites
yours was most untamed.
This is our first night in bed without you.
We lie waiting in the dark
for you to rustle over pillows
and plunk into position.
Your sigh marked a finished day;
now we must each come to our own conclusions,
but we are answerless
as to where you are tonight.

Soon I’ll return to work, back to the job
you heard me say I hate;
drove down to see my mother on Saturday,
the infection in her hand is healing.
Linda cut my hair last night and for a moment
the man in the mirror looked young and refreshed,
not the old uninspired figure that fed you each morning.
Daryl has washed the dishes
and sits staring out the window.

I pray the water is cool wherever you are,
the grass high enough for rolling
and the level gaze in your eyes
is fixed on the sweet turn of spring
with ferns unfolding in lush green letters
and lilacs longing to be lifted
to your nose, their fat purple plumes
floating in the air like lanterns.

That morning still haunts us,
Daryl’s desperate pleas swirling from the kitchen
You brought a hemisphere of laughter
to the barren walls of these unpainted rooms,
unity to this modern family’s story,
held me responsible for my choices
with your worried stare
even when it seemed like getting in the car
and driving as far away from him
as I could get was the right thing to do.

It is mid-October and the carpet
of conifer and maple that slope
the hills where winter hides
glow in the afternoon sun
their leaves a council of red and orange.
Imagine what these ancient trees have seen
there in the highest peaks of the Allegany foothills
where sky meets limb. The autumn air
is somehow cool and warm
at the same time; it combusts
with a few steps left or right.
And if I close my eyes, it could be morning,
it could be spring.