All winter in stucco on 65th I learned to love
what couldn’t speak: what began in milk and
blood. Baby, cat, the man who worked long weeks
away from home. Forty below. My breath before me,
snow covering stiff trees burlapped against
a procession of storms. I shoveled walks, plugged
the car into a black heater. Nursed the baby, fed
the cat. Waited for the man who I was slow to love.
Sometimes I’d ride the bus to the bistro,
the only place in town that served espresso—
let it flow bitter down my throat—
the bistro where Czech brothers in crisp white
shirts and black trousers knew all about the baby,
the cat, the man who was away and I was slow to love.
At home, in quiet, I folded laundry, changed the baby’s
diapers, fed the cat, watched backyards fill with snow.
In spring, green pushing through sidewalk cracks,
I woke, pressed my mouth to the back of the man—
you—who I was slow to love. And bed and house
smelled forever of me falling suddenly into love, rappelling
the past in a blaze through decades of renovations, creak
of floorboards, families coming and going, ledgers of forgotten
bills, tables laid for supper, someone waving on a front porch,
new brides, the washing of the dead, all the stories
I never wrote about us, your arms around the baby,
around me, sealed into cracked plaster with a kiss.
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