by Laura Foley
In the Winooski bank, a wispy-haired woman
in pink-flowered dress, matching pink purse,
forgets why she’s there, explains her memory loss,
asks the teller to withdraw thirty dollars from savings,
then forgets how much she’s asked for,
as the teller nods, smiles, reminds.
I’ve driven two hours to this branch,
to close my late sister’s account.
I carry her dark blue checkbook,
handwriting neat and legible, small numbers
adding up, subtracting.
All I have of her, all she left behind,
in two Manila envelopes.
When she died, in her bathtub,
her new townhouse was almost empty of furniture;
she must have known
she wouldn’t be hosting anyone,
must have enjoyed the feeling
of owning so much private space.
At my turn in line, the bank manager,
the assistant, the teller—each one
shakes my hand, looks into my eyes:
I’m so very sorry for your loss.
I wonder if they see my old grief,
for a sister lost to me long before she passed,
snow-cold and distant as Pluto’s furthest moon.
That night, I watch, from a lawn chair,
those little darts of light—just like us, it occurs to me—
streaking and falling across a great darkness.
This three-year-old speaks French
at daycare and with his mom,
and Spanish with his dad.
I read him a picture book,
learn two new words:
élan and raton laveur.
What’s this? I ask, offering him a cashew.
He takes one politely, munches it slowly,
stares into deep space for the answer,
but neither of us knows. We sit, chewing,
enjoying the saltiness, together
in the cloud of unknowing.
All That Weekend
Everyone, from receptionists to cleaning staff,
welcomed us, as we rode up to the fifth floor
and back again,
paddled in the warm hotel pool,
ordered pizza delivered to our room.
I love elevators, Evelyn crooned,
pressing the buttons,
watching the numbers change,
racing me along the hallways,
giggling Win! as she careened in,
pressing her full weight to open our door.
Every day, coldest days of the season,
a brisk ocean wind kept us inside,
but the smokestack outside our window
puffed shapely white steam
in the blue cloudlessness.
Look Grandma, that’s Santa, with his sack of toys.
All that weekend, I saw him too,
the god of gifts, winking in at us,
billowing across the sky.
Image by Cliford Mervil via Pexels