The movers are here this morning.
Only things with yellow post-its,
I tell them. I find my long lost earring
behind the couch. Probably landed there
that night we couldn’t wait to get upstairs.
I put it in my pocket, wonder
if I kept the other one.
I divide the sterling service for eight
into two sets of four –
Solomon solution of no use
to either of us for dinner parties. Outside,
the garden needs tending – stalks of gray and brown;
withered blossoms in a winter without snow.
I reach for the pruners, then put them back.
The roses are his now.
Tonight I fix a curry with stuff from the fridge,
and we make small talk – my new job, his vacation.
Afterwards, we clean up in choreography
perfected through twenty years of meals together.
I feign tiredness and ask if he’ll be around
tomorrow before I leave.
No, there’s an early meeting, he says
and turns back to TV.
In the guest room, the sheets smell stale.
The old cat comes and curls into the crook of my knees –
an exquisite kindness.
by Sarah Russell, first published in the Goodreads Newsletter.
Editor’s Note: Sometimes the end of a thing happens with a long, slow movement into separation. In this poem, the narrator’s unspoken sadness is brought to attention by the cat’s unintentional punctuation.