Although it’s large as a barn, your one room fits you like a garment. Your dead husband sits in a corner, his gaze fixed on a newspaper that you change every morning. Carnations drift in a bowl of water, which you also change daily. You believe that Wallace Stevens has blessed this space because the fiction of it feels so real. One big window overlooks an avenue strung with Christmas lights in white and blue. The other window peers at the famous rectory designed by Richardson but spoiled by the addition of a fourth story. You still look as passionate as a seagull although you’ve gone secretly adrift. As if your shadow no longer wants to know you. The room fits so closely you feel squeezed, indecent in form-fit raiment no grandmother should sport. Your granddaughter, many miles away, prattles in her father’s native German. When you Skype, her waterfall of consonants impresses you, but the vowels sound flat. When will you explain that her grandfather died of ennui, bored by books that withheld their love? When will you point your laptop at his wax-works expression, apology still whispering from his frozen lips? You should divide your room with a Japanese screen so you don’t have to watch your dead spouse trying to understand news that only applies to the living. Someday you’ll tire of this routine and move to Germany to be near the remains of your family. But for now, you feel flattered by this clinging space, and enjoy your husband’s silence, which like your carnations you imagine that Mr. Stevens would endorse.
William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent book is Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston.