Her brown curls heaped on the pillow,
the comforter sprawled below her breasts.
She fled into her magazine.
For a minute, motionless, he stood.
Starlings chattered in the walnut tree.
*………. * ……….*
In days they decided on a baby.
It was not the last “decision.”
* ……….* ……….*
As, like coils of hair, they each unraveled
in stories too intricate for pianos or flutes,
he strained to envision that tableau
(the floral bed spread they bought in Berkeley;
her lips almost closing, moving back apart
as she subvocalized; his own feet sunk
into the carpet)
in successive surrogates of that home:
their beach bungalow in Venice,
their box apartment in Japan …
She lingered in the garage, assembling
their grandson’s tricycle.
He’d be out of his wheelchair next month, or not.
They’d live to see the child’s graduation, or not.
Their years living apart
would come to seem natural—an exhalation—
or always hurtful and capricious.
He returned to his music stand.
For a week he’d been practicing
the first movement of this piece by Roussel.
He could be in high school again.
Focus, repetition. No expectations
save one note tilting toward the next.
Jesse Wolfe teaches English at California State University Stanislaus. His debut poetry chapbook, En Route, appeared in December 2020. He is the author of the scholarly monograph Bloomsbury, Modernism, and the Reinvention of Intimacy (Cambridge, 2011) and is completing a second scholarly book about intimacy in contemporary Anglo-American fiction.