Perhaps it is the pain in his hip or
the idea that she knows about it that
makes him play harder at tennis, lobbing
to women in white skirts, his body loose
with possibility, balls flying across
nets that used to be boundaries.
Adrift on the bed, they are
two dark continents separated
by an ocean. Back to back,
the tightly knotted muscles of oarsmen
rowing in opposite directions; pillows
scrunched beneath stiff necks
his legs, her legs, both of them
leaning over the sides to keep
the balance, to keep
The places his hands used to
linger (in passing from the kitchen
to the table) are barren. Nothing
grows from her.
She searches the house for
tossing his belongings
into the middle of the room. Under the bed
she finds a small patch of fertile ground
sweet corn, potatoes,
green beans, squash.
She hopes it is enough
Seeing herself in the mirror, she touches
the lips that used to tell him what
other women tell him now. Her love
wilts and falls into the bathroom sink
and frost gathers at the thin
flowerless stems of her mouth.
He is three hours late and
has forgotten his excuse.
She writes him one on a napkin
and tucks it in his pocket.
Be kind, she says,
and he is. Kind enough.
he plants his seeds at night
beneath a new moon and when
the season ends he crawls
back into their bed,
takes less room.