It was past the time when the hour hand’s
Revolutions were painted with tears.
It was past the moment when a single red rose,
Resting on oak, lowered itself to be covered
In Indiana clay.
It was closer to the days,
When I sat among scattered papers,
Cigarette butts, and torn photographs.
I could feel loneliness the way I could smell
Spring coming to Madison.
The mist from Big Clifty clinging to a moss
Laughter bellowing from the sandstone that
Framed the sleeping brook.
March air kissing red cheeks,
Hearts skipping beats, in love with life.
I stared out the west window for years.
There was the hill we once sat on in the
Shade of an oak.
A blue, wool blanket pressing the crabgrass
Flat while we talked, chuckled, remembered.
Ants formed a conga line to my ham and
The way tears licked their way to the
Corners of her smile when I bit into it.
The path that runs through the chicken yard,
The path that crosses the Kissing Bridge,
That path that creeps past the rotted Model A
Ford that hobos sometimes sleep in.
The path when I bring her flowers,
The path that leads to the chipped, rusty back
Gate and a sign that reads
It was long after we said “I do” in a white
Washed church with no steeple
To a preacher wearing a black tie.
It was past the time when I sat among the
Cattails holding a lace handkerchief bearing
“J.S.” in one corner,
While slowly turning my gold wedding band
Between scarred fingers.
It was when I fell between the snow peas and
The sweet corn,
My overalls stained in black earth,
Wind burning the lower lids of my eyes,
That I saw her standing near the porch,
Where she’d always been,
Wearing a cotton dress,
Hanging my shirts on the line.