Husbandry: The Old Widower at the Corner House
The thing, perhaps, is to plant flowers and not be afraid
His days with his wife fade toward a trackless desert.
His constant garden keeps her close. He waters
the memories of their days together with
an old man’s secret tears. He bestows his roses
on women who pass, and they accept like
flustered prom queens. He reminds them of their
lonely grandpas, and find him harmless
and smile kindly and dub him a sweetheart.
His wife and he had not planned this, each hoping
to go first. He is left to tend her absence
with splashes, sprays, and pinwheels of cosmos,
daisies, four-o’clocks and holly hocks.
Zinnias, lilies and dahlias rise around
him in an anthem and hymn of color.
He hoes and speaks with her shadow,
knowing she listens:
Here we are again, love, like so many
times before, near winter’s edge. Reach out.
Reach out your kind and steady hand and smile.
I am afraid. Tell me what I must do.
Mark DeFoe's work has appeared in chapbooks, anthologies and in Poetry, Paris Review, Kenyon Review, Yale Review, Smartish Pace, Denver Q. and many others. He is a member of the core faculty of West Virginia Wesleyan' MFA Program.