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Meditation on an Ancient Widow
by Carole Bugge

Her husband has just died
after sixty-two years of his stark, lean body next to hers
in their creaking, ancient bed with the musty mattress and rusty springs
And now she listens from within this grey house with its peeling paint
weathered wicker chairs and faded sea green shutters
as the wind and the waves beat against the bellows of the bay
Her ancient voice, thin as paper,
dry as the brittle rushes growing along the side of the house
floats across the water to where the buoy floats
bobbing in and out of the restless water with its swelling, roving tides
She sits under the yellow corner lamp, her crossword on her lap,
listening to the seagulls run their hollow, falling scales
as they caw and cry and call to each other
the tea in her cup is cold
She draws her sweater close around her thin, sharp shoulders
the curve of her back bent with age
like the prow of a ship
all the more keenly to press through the waves
to cut cleanly through the wake of his leaving
Her body has stored within it the recall of each touch of his hands
sixty-two years of kisses and caresses
sixty-two years of his body next to hers
Self-pity is not in her nature
she is keen and sharp and unsentimental as the sun-bleached driftwood
gathering dust on the window sill
Still, at night she thinks she hears his footsteps along the floorboards
padding slowly down the hall to her room
As the old ship’s clock on the mantel strikes midnight
she turns her face toward the door
and opens her arms to him


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