Late afternoon, a glowing amber sunbeam
Seeps between the ivory colored curtains.
In the fading light the pictures on the wall
Are like a gallery of her lengthy life.
The dust wanders and meanders in and out
Of the dying light like mischievous children
As unpredictable as her scattered memories.
It blankets the Hummels and windowsills
and the mantlepiece and the grandfather clock
Whose hands haven‘t moved in many years.
The children’s games are still there on the shelf
In their faded, colored, cardboard boxes:
Candy Land, Happy Face, Monopoly, Chutes & Ladders.
Katie always loved Candy Land and Happy Face.
The toys are still in a box in the corner,
A random jumble of gaily colored plastic.
She saves them for the great grandchildren.
She knows they’ll want to play with them someday.
She wonders if he’ll call today.
He called last week from Albany,
Or was it Schenectady? Or was it last month?
The kids are doing really well, he said.
He couldn’t talk long, though.
He was in the car. He’s always in the car.
He had a meeting in a few minutes.
He promised he’d call again.
He’s such a good boy, I’m proud of him, she thinks.
She goes to the mailbox, waves to a neighbor
She doesn‘t recognize. Looks at the handful of mail:
Catalogs, bills, return addresses from strangers.
She eats her soup with Alex Trebec as her dinner guest.
She changes into her favorite nightgown, the pink one
With the bluebells. It was from the grandkids.
Jay Leno will visit her again tonight;
But she always liked Johnny Carson better.
She shuts the light, lies down and whispers her prayers
In the darkness that covers her like a shroud
And goes to sleep.
–Stephen P. Smith