Judith McCombs



for Elisenda & Richard


The bedroom, winter light streaming in, white as the sheers on the windows.

The bed, four polished brown posts, foursquare to the winds, island of rest.

From upstate New York to 'Nam, California, Nepal, his lifeline led here.


The bedspread, petals or blazes of red, shapes drifting and held.

The pillows, side by side, head to head.


On the spread his jacket, grey padded leather, lies sideways and 

half-folded over,

like a sleeper turned to the window, waiting.


Quietly, she lifts the jacket: This is Richard's.

It's what he was wearing, she says. His kids took the hat back to Nepal.

No one wanted his jacket. She opens the grey leather folds, still pliable,

to show the scissoring, too late, up the left chest and down the left arm.


It can be sewn, she says.

McCombs' poems appear in Calyx, Hunger Mountain, Poet Lore, Potomac Review
(Poetry Prize), Prairie Schooner, Red Cedar Review, Sisters of the Earth, and Sow's Ear; Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Innisfree Poetry Journal; Feminist Studies, Nimrod (Neruda Award), Poetry, Poetry Northwest, River Styx, and her fifth book, The Habit of Fire: Poems Selected & New. She received the Maryland State Arts Council's highest 2009 award in Poetry. She teaches writing workshops at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD, and arranges a poetry series at Kensington Row Bookshop.



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