A Short Story About Us After They’ve Gone

She is a winged doe, plodding along the kitchen tile,
hither/thither clipping orchids, melting wax, reaching out
to catch the tray of flutes before it falls—
but it falls, makes such a racket, cacophony of clattering
she curses, spouts a string of psalms and esoteric verses,
kicks the chunks of shards and tires her feet,
shoves it in a corner and forgets about it until the night,
slings the cupboards open and demands I climb
to the tippy-most tower where her grandfather’s
old boozy glassware has waited five decades to be touched,
and I step up on a wooden stool, clamber onto the counter,
brush my crown against the ceiling, strive my fingers
into the back room of afar histories, feel the dust,
leave my prints, slowly avoid the postulants of
what foul six/eight/quadrillion legged beasts are slumbering,
I snatch the box (an ungodly, unexpectedly heavy box),
heave, shiver, quake under its weight and place it eagerly
into the hooves of the doe, hear the shink-tink!
watch her hastily pull out each unnervingly beautiful
translucent cup, purse her lips,
white micro grains spilling out into the yellow window light
as she blows, a little galaxy, unfurling of a brigantine’s sails,
proceeding headlong into the air we smell the smell of
time, remember things we’ve not remembered in awhile,
and I bend down, and she gazes up, and together we say
“Remember?” So we both do, I hop down with spry bravura,
with rugged finesse she pops the bottle, doesn’t rinse
her grandfather’s glasses but swiftly pours the mithridate,
as though she wants to drink her ancestors,
have them swim inside her belly like ghosts, we toast,
we toast to gone homes, cast off lovers, jobs we hated
and people we yearned for from the other sides of roads,
public transportation, Waterbears and diatoms,
the Apollo Missions and our favorite books,
and the lands, and the waters, and the trees,
the sixteen dogs and nine cats that have inhabited our hearts,
and we clap the hands of her dead grandfather together,
down it in one go, have a lark, kiss each other,
empty the last of the bottle into the other six cups,
and the doe carries them off, the voices of individuals
who have done the damnedest things with us
rolling around like marbles in a ceramic bowl they slide
through the archway, where once alone, I had cried,
after a phone call, another dear one
reported: Passed On.

First published on Poet’s Corner April 25th, 2017

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