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.