I empty the faded flowers into the trash.
The lilies she bought and arranged
into the vase left beneath the sink
when others moved away
brightened the living room for a week
and then began to follow the way
of this world’s beauties.
The stems are still green but nothing good remains
of the blooms.
A few of the petals, weary of their duty,
dropped into the wide mouth of the vase.
Wilted and already starting to rot,
they clot around my fingers
as I fish them out,
drop them into the trash.
This house is empty and still;
scatterings of furniture not yet arranged
into any semblance of place or purpose
seem strangely turned.
Empty chairs point along empty walls toward the kitchen
as if knowing their mission
will be revealed from that direction.
Lord willing, she will be back this week
and much of what lacks will be made better.
I am learning to live with this new schedule
of living in two places.
But I know this,
it is not flowers that brighten the space
where she moves with grace and wisdom,
nor hanging pictures that fill my heart
until the moments of our parting are ended.
I close my eyes in the dim light
of this nearly empty room
and feel her voice moving in me
like oil over stones.