Denise Evans Durkin
Seventy years – she lays her favorite red robe
across the bed and wonders – it’s fading and torn –
she spreads her arms wide –
six children, an entire life.
If I lift this robe and shake it maybe they will fall out –
husband, sons, and daughters –
and maybe I might catch them, but these hands
are not strong any more.
You know I miss you, she says to the photograph of him
smiling, looks at the second one of all of them that day
at the amusement park, all of them laughing –
she tells herself this is all I’ve got – the children are grown
and gone – strewn across the planet like wildflowers.
Brushing iron gray hair, she remembers it auburn, remembers
peach pomade, forbidden cigarettes, dancing to Harry James –
swinging the war away – cooking a meal for the two of them,
just the nearness of you, barefoot, still in her little black dress
before the end of war, marriage, compromises, acceptances, denials,
before children when the world and everything in it belonged to her.
She remembers. And she imagines the world a root vegetable –
all is secret goodness underground – she can hold it
upside down where she might find her little ones growing.