AT THE KITCHEN TABLE
The late spring snow
catches us off-guard,
drifts against the henhouse wall,
blots out the distant fells.
And here, in this borrowed house,
we watch, transfixed,
brave the blizzard
to throw scraps for the birds,
half-wishing it could always be like this.
Just you and I
at the kitchen table—
a dog-eared novel,
the weekend papers,
the last bottle of wine
waiting on the shelf
until the sheep are fed.
Yet we know
the snow will thaw by morning,
and we’ll drive down the lane
for bread and logs,
ice-melt from the trees
pattering on the bonnet.
Then, too soon,
the workday grind will call us back
from this adopted life
to the small house in the town,
where everything is a little less bright
and a little less kind.
As we leave,
the weather will change again,
the brilliant shine of it
making us smile,
and I’ll point out a newborn lamb,
his pink ears backlit by the sun,
as he watches us drive away.
If I ever question my love for you,
aware that the years have wearied its shine,
knowing we can’t outrun
the ravages of familiarity,
then I picture life without you.
I have you stolen by a nameless illness,
some freak accident or fall,
taken without saying goodbye.
I imagine the house
still strewn with your possessions:
that cracked, tea-stained mug I loathe,
your shaving brush left out to dry
with the bristles over-splayed,
a ziggurat of half-read books,
each marked with scribbled notes,
newspaper folded open at the crossword,
waiting for you to solve that final clue.
Not forgetting those four small nails
on the kitchen table,
left there as though to vex me.
I can feel them in my hand,
yet sharp as loss,
and I know there is no doubt,
My grief pours out, unstoppable,
until I hear your key in the door.
Amanda Huggins’ latest poetry collection The Collective Nouns For Birds is published by Maytree Press and is available here.
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