What to do when a best friend's husband dies
on the eve of your little girl's birthday...
Hang up the phone, lean into the counter
in a kind of conscious faint. Moan.
Moan, a deep cry that comes from a place
you didn't know existed, tremble
and feel the ice cold sensation that begins
rising and falling within you like
shimmering up and down
a midnight sky.
Take out the black-handled
Henckels and a yellow onion
and chop the pearly flesh into perfect
little squares. Mince the summer
garlic. Scrape it all into a cast iron
pan. Add dried oregano, because you can't
think about harvesting right now... the fresh
oregano just outside the kitchen door.
Turn to the sink and begin. One glass,
one dish at a time. Watch the suds play
at the edges of cobalt blue, fall onto
stainless steel, slide down the drain. Moan
again. A labored moan rising to a muted wail
(you dare not wake the children).
Curse the maker
of lawn mowers. Beg the man
to come back and this time decide
upon a nap instead of the simple exercise
of back and forth on green, where he has
fallen. Did fall. Ask God to turn back time,
if only for this one whose heart has failed
him. Let it not be so, that he has
Turn off the pewter faucet,
the blue flame. Put wilted onions
and herbs in the bottom of a crock pot,
where they will have to wait until tomorrow.
Flick off the recessed lighting.
Go up red oak stairs. Sleep,
a dreamless sleep.
In the morning, sing happy birthday
to your eight-year-old. Kiss her on the
cheek and forehead. Hold her to your
heart. Give her the black-handled scissors
so she may go out into the green.
The birthday sauce will be needing basil, fresh.
And she will go out skipping,
snip it for you at the tender neck.
Put it in your hand with soft, round
fingers. Toss her head, and smile.
Poem and Dying Hosta photo, by L.L. Barkat.
L.L.'s Winter Stores