Widow First Day

Light peeps through the blinds
Must be a couple of hours since her daughter’s family came.
She pushes back the covers, heads for the bathroom,
Stops to pick up the usual crumpled black socks.
Today there are no socks.
His yesterday’s clothes are in a white plastic bag
Marked “Patient Property”

When she returns to bed, she glances over at
his side still perfectly made up. No crease in his pillow.
No smell of coffee wafting up from the kitchen.
She curls up and covers her head with the sheet. What now?

From the next room she hears her grandson whimper,
feet hitting the floor. That would be her daughter, of course.
Why can’t husbands take their turn?
She sits on the edge of the bed hugging herself,
hears the doorknob click. The arm that holds her
shaking shoulders is her son-in-law’s spare arm.
The other one cradles his son, his wrist cramped around to hold the bottle.

She smiles up at him, rests her head on his chest
and lets the tears flow. They cry it out together.
The bottle gurgles. “He’s full, Mom. I have to change him”
He rises. She follows him back into the spare room.
Her daughter, on the edge of the bed, crying.

She goes to her, stepping over the crumpled black socks on the floor.
When her daughter rises and reaches for the socks, she says, “No.”
“Let me do that. Please?”

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