by Alice Wolf Gilborn
His turn for blood work this morning.
A routine test, but no breakfast, not
even coffee. Just twelve degrees—
I offer to walk the dog and after
the long ritual of dressing for frigid
weather, I plunge into the heartless air.
An orange cat crouched in the driveway
shifts its front paws; puffed up jays
squawk in the oak tree. The dog
stops—then sneezes mightily,
putting cat and cold on notice.
When I get back, he’s settled in his
favorite chair, newspaper on his lap.
Table’s set for one; a pot of water
boiling on the stove awaits its egg,
tea bag sits in a mug, a single slice
of toast is ready to pop. The radio
is off for once, so it’s our own voices
we hear, chatter we won’t remember
in a room warming with winter sun.
When he leaves, silence descends
like yesterday’s snow.
Eating my solitary breakfast,
I think of his small habitual gestures,
the way he has of wanting to nourish
the living: sparrows peck seed he’s
spread on the deck, his two feral
cats feed at their bowl, at the table
I’m about to crack a perfect egg.
Sustenance of many years. I wish
him well, I wish him love, food
for our braided lives. I wish
all results positive.
You can find this poem in Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection.