Her house smiled into the golden sun of the soft spring afternoon, contented with its occupants. Still, it savored the delicious anticipation of holding everyone in its arms later that day. The kitchen was the happiest room. Nanna napped in the corner, wrapped in waves of warm vanilla and covered with cats teaching gravity new lessons. At the window, she studied the picture clouds morphing across the cobalt sky, amused by the hummingbirds playing tag in the preening palm fronds and chittering with bad tempered abandon.
The phone rang. She grinned at the display, thinking how sweet it was when an almost grown man child called his mother. He’d needed to come home; he’d sung that through his emails and whispered it into the crevices of his silences for weeks. She’d felt his yearning reach toward desperation, but now he was almost here. Mother love answered the phone before her hand even made it to the receiver.
Then time stepped slightly out of joint.
Later, she looked back again and again, trying
to access that last moment of peace.
She saw the dust motes suspended in a ray of sunshine and felt
the excitement pulsing in her chest and behind
She willed her past self to leave
the phone alone. Preserve
the world as a safe
place for another hour,
It never worked.
Every time, she answered the phone.
Every time, her smile froze to her face,
and Nanna woke with a start
at the strangled sounds
fighting out from behind her teeth.
Every time, she shattered and broke into jagged shards on the cold stone floor.
Her house mumbles awake on a summer day when the sun is already gilding the treetops. It dips its toes into the pool and welcomes the wind rocking in the glider, taking a break from duties in the sky. Opening windows and doors, the home invites the breezes, “Come…freshen…malcontent…despair.”
She lies on a chaise in the front courtyard, just beyond the walls. She doesn’t go in.
He is here and he is dead; he is dead and he is here.
For ten days she argued with his death.
For ten days that were ten decades, she pulled him back from precipices.
She stole him away, sequestered, in a desperate, lonesome embrace.
They limped home with strength she didn’t have.
Now, she hangs two futures on the wall, side by side.
The one she thought she owned is defaced; it withers.
There is an end to her in this that she could cherish,
so she is slow to assume the mortgage on the second.
He clings there, naked, half of him ripped away into ribbons of agony.
She searches for the antonym of tenderness.
They have picked up so many stones together; she hadn’t realized
as they are in the collages they have made of themselves.
Waves grumble onto the sand, half-heartedly swiping at clouds of indignant seabirds.
He hesitates as they herd themselves toward him, and they stare each other down,
large man and tiny birds,
mutually suspicious of each other’s motives.
Détente prevails.The birds swarm back to tease the sulky swells
and they walk on,
his stride muddled by loss.
K. Dana King holds a rather ancient B.A. in English and History from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. She also attended the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. She is the proud parent of two interesting, intelligent, and talented young adults and one ornery cat, and she moonlights as a Writing Consultant at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, California.