That tranquil spirit does not live here
anymore. The one I’d come to call
friend, self, has moved on, disenchanted.
I stand scowling over wet lettuces,
chop pithy forest mushrooms,
knead bread of honey and whole wheat,
but she’s not here at my shoulder
exclaiming over the texture and smell,
the fat squat handful of the loaves.
She’s not dancing about the room
in fuzzy gigantic slippers,
sticking a finger when I'm not looking
into the bowl. Inquisitive, exquisite,
finding a poem in every recipe,
sketching cats or low lazy hills
in the dust on every other bookshelf—
happy, well-rounded shapes,
leaving her silver rings
her gypsy bangles in each glass.
She was absent-minded, dear—
now only absent. She has gone
to live in someone else’s house.
Perhaps they have a parakeet,
a window open on a rose garden, or on
a full-blown sea with a small fishing boat.
Perhaps she lives with those who can
lavish color on her, strew lavender
among the fine silk stockings, touch
the hollow of her throat with patchouli.
Why did I always hush her?
She would stand then with a finger
to her lips, as if to flatten out that smile
into sufficiently serious lines—
eternal two-year-old, daring
to ask “why not?”
She took things as she found them
and left them brighter, only a bit
askew, her jelly-sticky fingerprints
in the margins, grape blue.
The absence of her footsteps
echoes on the stairs like blankest verse,
unrhymed couplets shuffling down the hall.
I’m left with just the empty arms
of an outsized sweater hugging my neck,
to listen to those precious grown-up
silences I begged her for.