I watched from a window
as kids careened through the yard,
playing games whose rules I didn’t get.
Parents stood around in knots of conversation,
drinking beer from the cooler, or wine
in plastic cups. Potato chips were crushed
into the lawn. Was it July 4th?
I was helping my friend in the kitchen—
slicing carrots and celery, organizing
mustard and relish and ketchup—
when she wiped her hands on her apron
and gave me a push. Enough, she said.
Go on outside with the others.
I saw her husband just laying coals
for the fire—he would die in two years,
but that was a distant future
we knew nothing about. It was an hour,
at least, till dinner. An hour.
I topped off my wine
and went—quietly, so she wouldn’t notice—
to the study, where I settled in the blue armchair.
I took my Modern Library Anna Karenina
from the diaper bag and entered again
her world—love abandoned for passion,
love abandoned for death. Later
they sent my son to find me.
Mommy, Mommy, he cried,
tugging my arm.