The aftermath makes me a housekeeper.
From behind the radiator, I sweep
clumps of dirt, cut hairs, dead things
that cling to me like lint. The pipes of history have burst
and now it stains the ceiling and drips down the walls.
I catch it in buckets and toss in torn notebooks
without dwelling on the identical way we wrote our words.
Soon every kitchen counter will be scrubbed
of all the care that used to feed me.
A drawer of old receipts, a familiar name on a
prescription label, an untanned band of skin
around a bare ring finger – my house stutters over mess
like a missing word. So now I go from room to room
turning the speech simple. Giving up the gone.
The hardest part was opening the door.
I didn’t want to watch the first ghost go, as if I had borrowed loss
and would return it to her when she returned. But the house
let out its breath when my hand closed around the handle –
the sigh of finally letting all that dead weight drop.
In the end, it closes easy, the wound she made of me.
When I look away, the edges meet
and fuse together almost as they were,
whole as an unset bone.