TO A HUSBAND, SAVED BY DEATH AT 48
You will not see me, now
older than you are.
You will not watch my toenails
harden into turtle shells.
You will not complain about my face
creams costing more than most people
spend on groceries in a month.
Nor see me apply them to my hands
because no matter how young a woman’s face looks,
it’s always the back of her hands
that give her away.
You will never think of me as a suitable gift
for a toddler on Christmas,
shrunken to doll size, wrapped in skin
as thin as bargain paper. You will not be the one
to drive me home wet
from the Lloyd Center Mall
where restrooms are hidden away like exclusive resorts
down remote corridors.
You will not need to remind me
to take my umbrella when it’s raining,
nor find my car keys
in the refrigerator next to the eggs I bought yesterday
and we will not laugh about it.
You will not hear me struggling with nouns.
You will never be awakened late on Friday evening
by a ringing phone, wife gone from your bed,
Detective Copeland saying she was found asking people
to help her find her husband
at a Taco Bell on Burnside
that stays open from 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
every day but Sunday.
Someone else will sit with me in the ER on New Year’s Eve
listening to an alcohol poisoned teenage boy
vomit in the next room while we wait for news
about the golf ball on my temple, received for nothing more complicated
than slipping off a curb.
You will not see me without my teeth
or my gallbladder.
Never need to learn I’ve been sexually inappropriate with Paul
in The Pearl Memory Care Residence at Kruse Way
where I live apart from you for the first time in fifty years.
You will not be the one to close my eyes.
—from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalists