I woke to my father's quiet voice and ran
to the front porch,
almost hitting her in the clumsy swing
of the glass storm door.
She lay motionless in the morning chill,
a perfect fur crescent on the concrete
just before the doorway.
That hole took my father a long time to dig
and I watched from the kitchen window
as the man who had scolded me
for crying over fights with my mother,
broken toys and bullies
hunched his strong shoulders and paused,
laying the shovel down on the cold red clay
to wipe his eyes.
By the sixth time, I could predict
the number of weeks (5)
it would take for you to text me those three words:
I miss you.
In the early evening,
as the humidity bonded our bare-chestedness,
I said, I missed you too.
Just this once, you said,
We can't keep doing this.
And I started counting again.
three pears, a small bag of pumpkin seeds.
a smooth, wood-handled pocketknife,
and two crystals, white and rose.
a pair of scissors, a length of ribbon,
leather slippers and a thick shawl.
a scuffed, stickered and stamped suitcase.
the old woman stepped into the bustling street
and locked her red door behind her.
when she returned in the evening,
thick ivy cradled the empty window boxes
and smothered the chimney.
her hair was glossy black, her skin smooth.
the suitcase sprung open, tumbling
one thousand white peonies over the name
carved into the marble-slab doorstep.