He hoped for delightful memories, something joyous                                                                    or, if it wasn’t asking too much, something soothing.

Not the odious plates in the drying rack the morning after Elaine                                        stormed out, gone where? Not those plates agleam with emptiness.

Not the memory of trimming Mother’s toenails in the home,                                                when he nipped her skin and felt awful, as if he were the one bleeding,                        until she whined like a brat, old face contorting.

Last summer had been too hot. Now winter wouldn’t end.

He found himself staring at the shoes lined up at the back door,                                              a first layer of bricks in a wall he could feel himself building.                                             Even their laces were orderly, pulled tight in their eyelets.

He believed he had been playful as a boy. He found old toys                                                      in Mother’s attic and tossed away the ragged terrier with marble eyes,                          the book of verse illustrated with victorian imps at play.                                                    Well-groomed children engaged in harmless mischief.

When he couldn’t sleep, he’d walk beneath the street lamps talking                                          to wraiths in the maples, vaprous and slightly thrilling, like mists                                 touching the sea, he thought, fit for strange-gilled monsters, silent mermen.

In the morning, he drove to the store, lifted the grillwork shutters,                                        prepared himself for sliding change across the linoleum counter.

Note that this has been added to the list of “Poems.”

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