For Else Kristina Hansen, who helped raise us

The careful tending of bouquets,
small miracles of color,
all those crossword puzzles.
Your crooked fingers delicate on rose stems.

You leave behind coffee and Angel Dessert.
I wear your tan loafers that suffocate my wide feet,
so I can still hear them in the stairwell
as if you are always arriving.

Aebleskiver on New Year’s morning.
Summers of wet sand in Marina Del Rey,
watching us make handprints
and sand castles.

I hear your voice in its stark unraveling.
You leave behind words,
some in Danish, your English forgotten
and out of order in your last days.

In the languid afternoon,
you leave behind a Lanz nightgown
I wore at twelve
covered in first blood.

Macaroni and cheese
with strawberry jam,
and rain. You leave behind rain
and your love of rain.

A pink chair. Tuborg beer.
The fine china with green leaves
looks almost like the urn
holding what’s left of you.

You leave me the Royal Copenhagen
figures called The Four Pains,
small green figures of children
in various states of distress

none of them in the right distress.
None of them look like me
walking on the river of grief
chasing the last light,

what you left behind
sleek as a new skin
I’ve never worn in this life
without you.

Donna Prinzmetal is a poet and psychotherapist. Her publications include: Prairie Schooner, The Comstock Review, and The Journal. Her first book, Snow White, When No One Was Looking, was published with CW Books in May of 2014. Her new collection, Each Unkept Secret, will be published in June of 2024.