After the blizzard, my husband drives
out to the cemetery to check on his mother.
He calls it Just Driving Around to See What’s What
and neither of us talk about the winding road
he takes that eventually turns west, past the old
peanut mill, to the quiet part of town made
even quieter, knee-deep in that singular hush of snow.
We pass the gates as casually as two people
come for a welfare check on the dead can be.
We don’t even get out of the car, don’t even
turn down the small beaten path that leads to her
headstone, nestled under the old juniper.
I look one way while he looks the other,
because it would break the illusion of our almost-
aimless drive; because he’s committed as I am
to our parts (Curious Townsperson 1 & 2);
because it’s a bone-deep kind of right to give him
this moment alone, let him feel the ache and
bewilderment of a heart still yo-yoed by love—
so the other end of the string is a powdered stone.
What does that matter? What has that ever mattered?
She was always, always cold, he tells me.
Middle of summer, August heatwave—
didn’t matter. Her room was a sauna.
He rolls his eyes, smiles, and the visit is over.
We drive past the gates, take turns watching
the juniper sink in the rearview mirror.
He takes my hand and pretends to see a bird.
I lace our fingers, pretend to see it too.
from Rattle #78, Winter 2022
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist
Kaitlin Reynolds: “I feel this need to commit as much as I can to written memory—because moments are the most precious things I’ll ever possess, and because the mind is a poor steward. I want better for them than a few decades of aimless floating around in my skull, waiting to erode into oblivion. Even if I’m the only one who ever knows: they happened, and I felt them, and they mattered. And everything deserves somewhere to go.”