Surely my brother recalls
the old porch, our family
dissolving into screens.
Now, his dining room table—gone.
His children, too, so young
they dance at the fact of two houses:
new beds, new bedrooms—old table.
The front light stays on.
Maybe she left it lit for him.
The emptiness is a mind that tries,
its worst thoughts muted, then shouting,
then for a moment, whisked away.
That day, Dad asked me to go with him.
Mom insisted we remain. All I knew
was that to leave meant to not stay.
Phones pressed hard into our ears,
my brother tells me his wife will come back
to pick up things the kids left.
He climbs the stairs, finds his daughter’s
strewn shoes. “Grace’s shoes,” he says.
“The pink shoes.”
Together we go through the new
sparseness of his house. He closes the door
to the room where his wife had slept.
In the silence she left we both hear
the clamor of a storm. It’s happening
in his city and in mine.
A recipient of fellowships from Artist Trust and the Jack Straw Cultural Center, Jeanine Walker has published poems in The Chattahoochee Review, New Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere, and has a full-length collection forthcoming from Groundhog Poetry Press in fall 2021. She teaches poetry to children and adults in Seattle, WA, and online.