In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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I’ve been cleaning this house.
First sweeping you out of it,
dustballs behind old shoes in your closet,
stacks of last year’s catalogs,
the gray dirt that clings to clutter,
and then, unwittingly,
polishing, arranging, even decorating
you back in. How you were before
when I thought you happy.
A smooth stone in every window,
broken shells and the feet of owls,
the cards and poems I sent you
then dusted fondly where they stood
until you stopped speaking.
It was gradual, your silence.
Amidst the noise of our children
I chattered on awhile before I noticed,
then to keep me company
when I felt its chill.
It was as if you stood before an empty horizon
still, looking back, confused.
You couldn’t make out what I was saying,
if it was really me, or just the wind.
From our third-story room
where we lay together under too-bright stars,
there only are you truly gone.
I have arranged it as a museum
and the solemn chastity of my pain
guards the dark hours like a cloistered nun,
finding in their revelations bright shards
paper-thin like mica, shiny
but too fragile to hold.