Within him, there was a vacant yearning
where he dwelled having given up. I don’t
know when. I can’t venture a guess, but
I have the thought that at one time, he was

more alive with this desire. For a woman?
How can I rightly say? I feel though that
it was a long wanting, the way it left
him devoid of life.

And that was when we met, there in his
private room, we two, where I learned
of his desire to return home. I was a young,
foolish intern, and I thought I had answers

for “home.” To go to art class, to play
checkers with his neighbors, in other
words to create a “home” there among
the dying and feeble.

But this was just recruitment he said.
And the battle lay ahead. I thought this
was senility perhaps. And so I brought
a checker board to his room.

A room that smelled of urine from the
hall. He taught me every way he knew
to cheat at checkers. My presence taught
him what he already knew – life carries on,
there would always be more soldiers.

After six months, I went to play checkers,
and he cheated me. “He’s gone home,”
the nurse declared. I looked down at my
gift for his Kwanzaa.

I thought he and I might have found his
“home.” I thought home was friendship
and empathy. But it was neither. It was
the sea where they spread his ashes on
the water. And it was not the sea at all.


Stay is the Winter

Our brunches on Sunday’s terrace
holding court with the “clever” early
bees drawn to our honey bowl, the
crab apple tree still whole then – the
lightning without device, the night’s
sun – we called it – how bright we
thought ourselves before they took

you. What great green harmony we
kept! How was I to know all that was
ours would need to be sold? And
after you, I discovered everything
ours would remain and take on the
winter as memory worked to keep
you unstolen.