That Sunday, the women arrived one by one
with trays of sweets, parked their shoes in piles,
entered the sterile living room,
ready for prayer as they made a circle around me.
Hushed and covered in rosewater,
they watched the embers leaping from my chest
and waited for storytelling. My centered body
now a dimming campfire they held their hands over.
I spoke of our memories with the sober accent
of evening, still and sunless, lacing
his moments into a tragedy I was too good
at reciting. They smiled only when I let them.
I pointed to his pieces, stains on a mug
of green tea he never finished drinking,
scraps of clothes flung into imperfect corners,
a kitchen full of labor now rotting,
dusk, in his shape, sat beside me;
every space filled with his ghostly presence.
I would not cry, wishing to mimic
the prowess of a mourning First Lady,
though my eyes had sunk deep
into a raw well of themselves.
I wanted to wipe the echo of his words
with the shroud I unfolded,
make a martyr of myself
for his sins that weren’t forgiven,
pardon treason for the sake of my nation, but
grief builds a graveyard out of those who remain.
So after the women disperse, I wail, wondering
how to lock all my gray into its own casket.
When he calls later, asking for his items,
I picture skeleton fingers gripping my throat.
His voice is both hollow and humble—
a man that leaves always turns you into a widow.
The stench of death lingers where there is no corpse;
we hang up, and I begin again planning the funeral.