Untitled (By the end)

By the end, we won’t remember what

happened when. We’ll remember hardly

any of it. The only thing that makes it

 

bearable is all the blossoming. The trees

turn white, then green. What unfolds

for me unfolds secondhandedly.

 

While they’re injecting the midazolam,

I am watching little girls in black

leotards play tag. Or it takes longer

 

than I think and we are already driving

home for dinner. But let’s go back

to before that. There was a murder.

 

It was violent. It was not an accident.

A young woman died and a young man

went to prison. Elsewhere, unrelated,

 

I want to be a poet. I fall in love with

someone. He becomes a lawyer.

We become a mother and a father.

 

We move to Denver. My husband meets

the young man in prison. He’s no longer

young. He becomes a kind of friend.

 

Of course this takes years. I learn

things like in supermax, the inmates

are required by law to have access

 

to one hour of sunlight per day.

The light though a skylight counts.

The men can’t touch their families

 

or each other. The day before their

executions, their mothers cannot hug

their sons good-bye. No one cares about this.

 

Why should they? Their victims’ parents

didn’t get to hug their children before—

yes. That is correct. So what’s wrong

 

with me? My husband sends his client books.

Should I say his name? He likes

vampire books. Mysteries. Thrillers.

 

When my husband calls him with the news

that the last appeal has been denied,

Clayton says Have a good weekend

 

when they hang up the phone. My husband

flies to Oklahoma City. I wait.

Amelia’s dance class is in a church.

 

I sit in the sanctuary and imagine

I am holding Clayton’s hand.

I am ridiculous. But my hand feels

 

warm for a minute. My husband calls

and he is weeping. Or he is furious.

He’s not dead yet, he says.

 

They kicked us out. They closed

the curtain and they made us leave.

It’s the end of April; everything’s in bloom.

 

It snows, then the sun comes back.

By summer, we should feel better.

By autumn, we might forget.

 

Our garden grows. We harvest. I walk

through the alley carrying vegetables.

When I get home and dump out the cucumbers,

 

I’m filled suddenly with joy. I pirouette

around the kitchen and imagine Clayton

is dancing with me, his spirit, anyway.

 

I think he is. I wish for it. I imagine

his victim’s mother wishing deeply

for my death, and I don’t blame her for it.

 

Note: This poem first appeared at Colorado Independent.

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