The widow taps her stick as she shuffles
through time around her dusty house. Her pale
eyes stare without sight, reflecting silver
like a winter lake. She can no longer
buy thrift-shop sweaters for a pittance,
unravel, wash, color them with homemade
dyes, then knit with still strong hands and ancient
flair into pullovers or cardigans
dressed up with exquisite painted buttons.
For company, she listens to TV
or talking books. On cloudless mornings of
golden sun when she can make out shadowy
shapes, she carefully makes tea, pale as the bark
of sycamore trees, in a bone china
cup smooth as mother-of-pearl. She gently
taps its leaf-thin rim with her grandmother’s worn
silver-plated spoon, for the bell-like sound it makes,
the way her mother showed her long ago.
She knows how the cup glows with radiant
light with the early morning sun flowing through.
Her house is scented with potpourri from
the summer she dried and hung in a recess
in the wall of her creamy white front hall
a garland of sweet-smelling lavender,
lemon verbena, and rose geranium.
She placed it by an ivory Kwan Yin
which had gleamed at her from a dark cobwebby
corner at a garage sale, appearing
to her like a cat to its chosen owner.
At night she lights the niche with amber light,
the way her husband liked. It feels to her
then as if he’s just left the room, soothes
the inner sobbing she feels through the
long lonely days, the long lonely nights.