Days we thought we’d lived before:
routines of conversation and television
shows that we already knew the endings of.
Days of winter and snow and birches
by the cemetery and cottonwoods like sentinels
down the road. Mornings, I knew
where to find you – shuffling your boots
at the doorway, coming in with the dog
and cupping breath with your hands.
I’ve never mastered restraint, or balance,
and I learned this from you – would return
from school to find you in your bed
with the blinds drawn or at the kitchen
table with chocolate croissants.
Now, we sit in restaurants on Baker Street,
round lamps all aglow like a path of moons.
We lose our appetites, and suddenly
the death of a dog takes on a whole new meaning:
encompasses an era gone, something
irretrievable and sweet like stewed rhubarb.
Those days of snow, and unexpected
gifts on my nightstand after I caught you weeping
while you washed dishes. I wondered about the other
houses on our street, and sometimes mounted the steps,
seeing the indistinct back of you at the sink –
a different ghost, a mother from a separate
dwelling that wasn’t you. As if she’d walked in
accidentally and hadn’t realized she didn’t belong.