“Widow Water” by Lance Larsen

Lance Larsen


All summer, garden snakes slithered in and out 
of her grief. Now she has Canada geese to count, 
as they angle south for the season. The lake 
is empty of wings, reminding her how ice first 
honors edges, how inky skies honor where 
he drowned. At night, she makes and unmakes 
the bed but never sleeps in it. By day, the leaves 
don’t fall fast enough so she walks under 
the maple, banging branches with a rake. Gloves? 
She lost them weeks ago during a midnight 
ramble, so now she wears his hunting socks 
on her hands, wool with red stripes. She saves
his whiskers in a shaving mug, clipped fingernails 
rolled up in an old bra, little fixes that fix 
nothing. She used to scatter mums on waves 
but grew tired of watching them serenely float. 
Now she lobs one of his hammers or a handful
of screws, each splash a little gulp, a thank you.
On the couch tonight she’ll light his last cigarette
and let it smolder down to ash while she eats 
a pomegranate, jewel by bleeding jewel, smoke 
tonguing the wall like a spirit seeking release. 

from Rattle #77, Fall 2022


Lance Larsen: “I find it nigh impossible to write an elegy without thinking of Bishop’s ‘One Art’: ‘then practice losing farther, losing faster.’ ‘Widow Water’ traces the rituals, or soul bargains, we make out of the everyday to memorialize a loved one. Who knows what will help us cope, collecting whiskers in an old mug or throwing a hammer in a lake? The loved one is there and not there, and sometimes we can’t tell the difference.”

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