A voice on the other end
of the phone sounding sad
this Monday 8 a.m.
with the news of a grandmother
dead. It makes you want to furl
the sails and ease back
into the harbor till the sky clears.

After the call the house is quiet,
not like a tomb-no refrigerators
there-but with the imperfect quiet
of breath held after bad news
into which pours the indifferent
sound of machines that don't care
about the repairs of silence or metaphor-

which they can afford to live without,
having no grandmothers in Minnesota.

          Thomas Wooten

We had not been here long
before things began going wrong:
the paint sang the praises

of the people who preceded us;
the faucets dripped a funeral dirge;
the floorboards moaned under the weight

of our every step and the very air we breathed
exited our lungs with a sigh of relief.
But we continued to have sex

as a way of remembering we were young
and eventually a baby came along.
It was a large baby full of crying

and non-negotiable demands.
It too didn't seem to like us,
even though we were naturally

very fond of it. But we thought, This is
the corner, the one we've been waiting
to turn. The baby grew. We did too

but not always in good directions.
I grew easily distracted while my wife
became otherworldly. We watched too much TV

and often drove around aimlessly
on Sundays, trying to think of someone
who would tolerate a visit from us.

And sometimes we did little repairs
around the house, which had settled
into its own quiet rut of modest decay.

We went on this way for years. Then
there was a death-an aged parent.
Then another died and another. Soon

we were alone, just us and our baby,
who was now quite large and accomplished
in getting what he wanted without our help.

For example, he moved out,
got married and had a baby
of his own. We took trips

to foreign countries that never
looked as good in person
as they did in the brochures.

The eternal seasons kept showing up
on our doorstep, then disappearing.
We rapidly forgot those early days,

with all their pain and confused longing.
We put aside sex and acquired dripless faucets.
We grew happy, almost by default.

Life closed around us like a flower,
you might say. Now sometimes, late at night,
we meet in the kitchen to share a glass of water.

           Thomas Wooten
THOMAS WOOTEN has published fiction in The Alabama Literary Review, The Georgia Review and The Quarterly.  His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the
Birmingham Poetry Review, Poem, Poetry Motel, The Red River Review and 3rd
Muse.  He lives in the American South. (E-mail: limeworks50@hotmail.com)