By Susan Kress
We are at breakfast, he and I, enjoying Sunday
tea and buttered toast, browsing sections
of the newspaper. Here’s a thing, he says, a letter
written by a dying woman. She’s listed
all her husband’s assets, commending him—
a handsome, smart, kind, loving, pancake-
making man—to some future spouse.
I sip my cooling tea and do not offer any future
letter of my own as I watch him lick his
forefinger to mop up toast crumbs—
see beyond him through the window heavy
heads of peonies bowed down from summer storms.
Here’s the thing:
I most surely do not want my husband
to be happy without me. If I die first, he’s got
to miss me every minute (my cold feet, chili meat
loaf, helpful interruptions when he tries
to make a point). No one else can wear my opal ring,
put on my oven mitts, warm my yellow teapot.
When he turns the pages to another section,
looks up again, he’ll see that I am gone—
my orange chair quite empty—our cross-
word puzzle on the table, one clue left to solve.
Outside, the peonies have straightened up a bit.
With stakes, they’ll last another day or two at least.
Susan Kress was born in England and now resides in Saratoga Springs, New York. She has poems published or forthcoming in The Southern Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Salmagundi, New Letters, La Presa, Halfway Down the Stairs, and other periodicals.