--after James Wright

The sun is shining
and spills onto the leaf-covered lawn
this late afternoon. The near empty trees,
gaunt like used toothpicks, foreshadow
winter and death. Outside the window I see
a green ladder leaning on the house like a sentinel
guarding the sun. Earlier, my husband had climbed
it, shaky like the autumn leaves littering
our gutter. He tried to empty the gutters,
but the ladder was not tall enough.
There is a trick to it. It is not rickety
and he did not fall, but still, like my cancer,
there was the fear.

A plane flies overhead, ferrying passengers
to the next life. I have wasted time
worrying about death and killing flies.

A dog barks from a nearby house.
At the end of the yard, a pipe pours
rainwater from our gutters into a muddy ravine.
I lean back onto the sofa, listen to the silence
and remind myself that he did not fall.

Published in 2018 Encore