It is January.
It is late.
On these long, sullen
winter days,
I deeply miss your
coming home.

I am diligent in this,
the waking, sleeping, and eating.
In washing dishes and crumbs off countertops, pulling the trash can down to the curb on Mondays.

Nightly alone
after she sleeps,
walking around in slippers
to the sound of the heat going on and then off.
I speak your name with wet hair after my diligent shower
and often I am angry with you
because you seem more real then.

I read the Catholic mystics and the dead poets.
I dog ear the pages
of words I am hopeful will embolden me
before I slip them in the metal slotted box outside the library.

And in mid-afternoon one day
I fall asleep in her little girl bed for just a few moments
and dream that you have returned.
I think it’s an intruder coming inside our house
so I call out loudly with trembling voice,
“Who is there?”

I know it is you-
and I am terrified.
Your hair is longer, disheveled,
and you are bending down over your daughter who has already run to you.
I wait for you to lift your head-
our eyes meet, though in dreams they usually do not.
They meet.
“I know…I know…” yours say.

Before I diligently go to bed,
before it gets too late
on this late January night,
I turn off the switch to the lamp post outside.
Always the mournful creak
as the door of the vestibule is shut.

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