She had never desired him in that way –
that aching in the skin she’d sometimes get
for a man possessed of that animal something.

Something outside of language or regret. No,
he’d been the regular husband, the hedged bet
against the bag lady and spinsterhood;

a cap on the toothpaste, the mowed lawn, bills paid;
a well-insured warm body in the bed,
the kindly touch if seldom kindling.

Odd then to have a grief so passionate
it woke her damp from dreams astraddle him –
the phantom embraced in pillows and blankets,

or sniffed among old shirts and bureau drawers.
She fairly swooned sometimes remembering
the curl of her name in his dull tenor.

Sweet nothings now rewhispered in her ears.
She chose black lace, black stain, reckoning
such pain a kind of romance in reverse.

The house filled with flowers. She ate nothing.
Giddy and sleepless, she longed for him alone.
Alone at last, she felt a girl again.