"Unfinished Things"


Between 1963 and 1966

The air - swollen with the promise of sex. We made out in a phone booth as he

called home for a ride. Groped in the last row at the Holiday matinee. Did

more in the sweaty back seat of his father’s Ford. Or was it a Chevy? Thick,

soft lips (or were they thin and hard?) all over mine. He was tall. Short. His

hair: dark, curly. No, blond, straight. There was a rumble below my belly.

Nothing else happened.

Late October 1984

He raked only half of the forested front lawn before he quit, went inside to

watch football. Soon, family and friends would show up for the baby’s

christening. The deep pile of leaves remained.

April 17, 1978

The nurses caught and cradled the fetus. I folded my maternity clothes, stored

them in the guest room closet. Later, I watched new mothers at the mall hold

babies against their breasts like merit badges.

May 3 and 4, 1998

Dad talked about his nausea from chemo and the new experimental med, but I

half listened, pre-occupied. With what? The next call was from his wife, urging

me to hurry.

June 2016

Each day, I cycle past the backyard of the big house with the in-ground pool. I

see the cage half draped with canvas, hear the dog. I call Animal Control. They

check it out, tell me the old lab has enough water, food and shelter. Nothing

they can do. But I still hear the plaintive cry. We are helpless.


The verse begins to slow, drain itself of words, searches for the right ending.

The window is closing, inching closer to the sill. Soon, all the air will be on the

other side.