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The Widow

by Donald W. Baker H’57
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After forty years and another death
the evenings are peaceful.
I live in Forestdale, near Silver Creek,
where I showed you the pioneer graves.
They cut down the cottonwoods.
My daughter lives on the coast,
and my son in Chicago.
Their children are growing.
I visit at Christmas.
It’s strange, feeling free to remember,
after a lifetime with Robert,
the long, honest job he did for us all.
Babies, their cries, little illnesses.
Pride, later, but fear, always fear.
As I feared for you in those crazy dead days.
When your letters stopped,
I dreamed of you falling, burning…
a stab in the heart, then a habit.
When I married, I burned
the snapshots and letters.
I can’t remember your voice or your eyes.
My dear boy, my first son…
What would you ask me to tell you?
The news of the day, perhaps?
Nothing has changed.
The world is still falling, burning.
Sometimes, in bed, in August,
I am nineteen again.
I lift your name into my mind.
Your arms hold me lightly.
Why not?
At breakfast I am myself,
a widow, sipping her coffee.

from Fought by Boys: New and Selected Poems from War