Martha Collins

Because What Else Could I Do
February 24, 2019 Collins Martha

from Because What Else Could I Do

 

                         Ted, 1938-2016

 

I alone in a restaurant

and what is left of you at home

 

in a plastic box on your dresser where

you kept your socks and put your change—

 

and what will I do at home in my own

house, what will I do with my one

 

spoon and my wide bed, what

will I do without without

 

*

 

and with you went my summer sun, a friend

or two, and who was there, and with you went

 

the weeks to come, the months so far (so far,

my one!), my body too, the one I knew

 

as one of two, though you forgot to take

desire, which now is wrapped in grief’s long arms,

 

and with you went the one I was, that was

—within, without, with you—mostly brave

 

and largely true, the one I find some moments

in some darkened place of joy, then lose

 

*

 

snow is over

everything is covered

with you white

 

over the lines

of the trees reverse

writing silent

 

*

 

I have to tell you I’m    sleeping with

a snowy owl    a kids’    puppet my friend

sent me    it has    a stick so you can turn

the head all the way    around    the way

owls do    but I can’t feel    the stick her

wings    wrap part way    around    me

and comfort    me I    know she is a    she

because she has    black spots    and I

should also mention    the photograph

taken by    another friend    who gave it

to me it’s    sitting    on my desk beside

some pictures    of you it’s    a snowy

owl and she    is flying    toward you

 

*

 

in your rust-colored jacket

your blue striped shirt

 

on your skis, in the woods

on the beach, in the surf

 

your house, your house

in winter, in spring

 

in your office chair

in the yard with your kids

 

in California

in Florence, in Rome

 

your lilacs before

they broke in the storm

 

your face, your face

all over now

Martha Collins’ most recent book is Night Unto Night (Milkweed, 2018), a sequel to Day Unto Day (2014). She also recently published Admit One: An American Scrapbook (Pittsburgh, 2016). She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.