After He Died, She Returned Out of Habit

After He Died, She Returned Out of Habit

In her winter house she dawdles and paces,
percolating coffee in an old pot speckled like his hair.
She leaves the pot on the stove all day,
turned low and half off the burner.
She wears jeans and his flannel shirts,
puts her hair in curlers.
She cooks meals too large for us, eats little herself.
Her hotcakes, soured until chewy and tart,
are still best with only a dab of butter.
We drink cheap wine and cheap beer,
talk politics, construction projects, life in revision.
She is thin but not birdlike, stout as a cactus.
We wake before dawn to the coyotes
and stretch out on couches, silent,
the coyotes saying all we would care to say.
She is alone in this desert,
where everything grows singular,
and untouched.
I want to stay with her and take care of her,
but she will never need taking care of.
When the cacti flower, she goes north.
She says she will die at home,
in her cabin by herself.
When she can’t leave it,
she wouldn’t want to.

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