The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Grace Cavalieri
Upstairs on Warren Street, in the Jewelry shop, we watched
the jeweler carve the letters of our names
with all the dollars that you’d saved.
It was silver with my name on the front in cursive swirls,
and yours, BLOCK letters on the back.
I was seventeen and we wore matching figured sweaters,
the style then,
blue with white stars, woolen, like sweaters at that time.
Years passed, houses and children came and went and
I forgot the time and money that we spent
until you died
and then, among your “Personals”—dog tags, worn to Laos,
(although you thought it would be just another cruise)—there,
attached to your dog tags, my I.D. bracelet fixed chain to chain.
I put it around my wrist and wore it every day
these past two years
until it went away last week. Where it dropped, I’ll never
know. I searched every store and drawer, dove down the
swimming pool to reach the bottom. Others helped. I called
each place I’d been and then dear Cindy bought
a brand new one which I’ll engrave with our old names,
but now I know the sign—I think—
You, Ken, bought it, carried it to sea and now took it back again,
generous Indian giver, saying “I release you now to start life,
a new life, to start again, unchained—
Although you are dead the vellum postcard comes addressed to you:
“since you are free again,” “now that you are single . . .”
“would you like to meet a friend of a friend?”
My dear dead husband,
Do you remember her? We double dated once, years ago.
She was small, Japanese, had a BMW convertible?
(You suddenly take human form in the grey striped suit
you wore for weddings, hair grown black again)
You shine and glow with the vibrato of such a meeting.
And I shrink with fear. Now this, just when I was trying
to live alone with my hopes of a bigger stage
and the satisfaction of artichokes, a single plum,
butter, potatoes and a half bottle of Plonk.
That means you and she will take our savings
and the old viola, and surely, it is yours, and who
can doubt it, or complain? We are no longer married.
I’m a widow, not a victim, just a woman
carrying a stack of pillows up the stairs to my apartment.
Tonight I’ll lie alone after plunging food
into the boiling water, wiping away the crumbs of my life
with you, cooking whatever there is that’s left.
Copyright 2006-2012 by Cook Communication