When Big Red Tastes Like The One You Can't Forget
by Loretta Diane Walker

Her anger lives in the taking:
death whirls him away before she can protest.
His razor stubble is ruff feathers against her ear
until morning drags sleep from her eyes.
Day washes away her dreams
like the last load of his clothes she laundered.
His overalls are scented with Tide. How she longs
to hold the smell of his musk and grass stained cloth.
She would settle for her body against his shadow;
death took that, too.

Loneliness pushes her out of the sad house.
She drives to the Music City Mall,
perches on a bench near Burlington Coat Factory,
ignores the constant stream of people surging pass,
stares at dark-haired twins playing in a green water fountain.
They taunt a smiley blow-up replica of Shamu
the whale, and a blue polka-dot octopus—
run to their daddy’s arms.
Their three-year old faces mirror joy.
He scoops them up; they are fins on either side of him.
Gleeful squeals bubble in their tiny throats.
The three of them drift away in their happiness.
She knew joy like this when her husband held her hand.

Denial is an ogre of yellow leaves piled in the backyard,
fear is a tiny bell trilling in the stomach,
and light cannot crawl its way out of darkness.
There was never a blueprint for a life without him.

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