Sometimes she lies in bed for days,
a spark of woman, strangled by memories
of how her husband deserted.
We mow the lawn, shovel snow,
bring her groceries until she unravels
the black shadow’s attack.
When she surfaces, her mind blazes,
holding vacuum sessions at 3 am,
hosing down the windows
after midnight crawls through the trees.
She walks the dark yard with one good eye,
pulling weeds, watering flowers,
gray hair died a plastic red,
moving cartoon-like under the moon.
Tonight we help her clean her basement,
interrupting the decade-long nap
of misshapen boxes,
scooping armfuls of past into garbage cans.
Her smile breaks like a branch
as we throw out newspapers, toss empty bottles
and jars that she tenderly washed and saved
as if they were children
as if she’d have something to fill them with.