Tape over the window cracks, stop sign to cold winter winds seals me inside the womb of the house. The floor no longer echoes of feet, children or dogs, or her, and the crackle at the hearth, the only sound. Thrashing in groups of twos, they came then looking for fruits forbidden in the crotch of life, sons playing with cousins, as adults pretended not to notice. Laughter, the mark of days without end, and immortality their rule as they became eighteen, one after another. Loving in parked cars, until they married, moving away to love freely, lives of their children beginning anywhere but here, they said, as if place makes a difference. She smiled as they left, and waved goodbye (inside she cried, openly only later, after the car started the driveway’s descent to the infinite web of highway). They all came back when she died, crying as if she wasn’t already dead — they never knew the young girl she used to be; nor would they have understood, then. Afterwards, they asked me to live with them, as if I could leave this place. Crackling fire, silence amid the noise of too few yesterdays, too many tomorrows, but I’ll not be sad — she’d skin me if I did, if she were here — Reflections now of what it all means, when the family comes the granddaughter’s eyes, so much like her own And I hear the song she would have sung, after they left, in the kitchen, as I — outside — chop wood.