The first cold rains scurry down the gold
tipped September elms. I know
she will not be in her bedroom, a room
I realize I have hardly entered
these last few years, the door so rarely
unlocked. But walking by with a basket
of laundry for my son, I am pulled
by a thread, I think, of her perfume
adrift in the hall, her door ajar, a window
that must be cracked to the cross breeze.
I set the basket down. The white door
turns on its hinges with a whisper
of my fingers and I step through. Her ceiling
LEDs are not lit, and her desk is not
a mess of bowls and mugs, books and
oil paints No aluminum wrappers from chips
and protein bars. Her purple blanky does
not hang at the edge of her unmade bed.
No, the bed is made. The closet, half open,
is not quite empty. And not balled on the floor,
the tie-dyed T she so often wore to sleep.
When I catch myself in the floor length
mirror, I’m not as small as I imagined I’d be.
No, I don’t look different at all. I’ve lost
now, her scent, that curl of flower that must
have slipped past me like a wraith,
like a breath of days spun through years,
like a rain that hushes the silence.
Copyright © 2023 by Matt W. Miller. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 15, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.