“There’s Mrs. Donleavey,” someone said,
and pointed to where she stood in her cloud
of nightgown, twenty yards up from where

five of us waited for the school bus to stop.
Her flood of gold hair was stained with damp.
Rosebuds grew from the gauze and tar

of her body. She hummed, and the long
braid of sound came down to us, a blind snake
in the garden, and though I held back I wanted

to leap and catch it, to grapple, to hoist
myself up into what I even then knew would be
the lap of grief. It was a cool morning

in early spring. Dew polished the dragon
leaves of the laurel, the blue hydrangea,
the boxwood whose dense green scales sprang

back at my touch, from my hand that blocked
her from view when the bus pulled away
with me at the window, and my palm left a smudge

that within days came to mark like a blossom
of smoke her complete disappearance
from our street—or so I thought I’d heard,

under a rush of water and the radio—into
a past I believed was hers only and that
seemed to me then shiny, inconsolable, new.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 14 Number 4, on page 35
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