- with gratitude to Tom
By Richard Messer

Home from work he finds the door wide open,
winged seeds of the neighbor's maple
scattered across the floor. His two kids left
him a note not to worry.
He fixes dinner and eats alone except
for an occasional cottonwood spore
rubbing along the kitchen window.
As he busies himself with the chores
that he always felt were hers
long oars of sunlight slant between the tall houses
and the May evening drifts by without a ripple.
The dusk brings them home. They scramble in
to the light and disarm him at once
with contrition and careless ease, and he scolds
as usual and makes sure they eat.
Once they are in bed, he goes out on the porch.
More seeds are falling, dry pods rattle
beneath a passing car and the gusting wind
brings him the smell of plowed black loam.
The night leans close to whisper. It is now,
somewhere in their sleep she touches the children,
now, as he sweeps the seeds out into the dark.

Previously published by Bottom Dog Press in Messer's book Murder in the Family


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