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Author Biography
Poetry By
  Cheryl Wilder

Published on: 7/15/2010

The answering machine light remains solid,
the empty side of my bed is full
of new pillows. It is almost midnight
and I sit at the kitchen table folding
a math book closed, my homework
tucked in-between like a tongue
wilted against the lower lip. My son
has kicked off his sheet so I lift
his pillow-soft legs but as I cover him
he walks over the sheet, the slightest
touch draws this reaction.
I press my cheek against his forehead,
listen to his breath and kiss him. In the house
there is the dishwasher
and silence, two sounds that cradle me
through nights since his father
finally left. I circle through
rooms before bed and think of
school and work and preschool
and bills and cleaning and laundry.
When I hear a sound my ears perk
but it's never the phone, I turned that off
months ago after listening to his voice
follow me through the house, trying, with a mere
pause and shift in tone, to get back inside my heart.

Published on: 7/15/2010

It seems the journey has not been easy for you, either.
You return shaking lint off tattered wings,
and have also lost your lyre. I wonder
why you had left me to suffer alone,
dipping ink from my veins instead of yours.

What I don't tell you, while I suture
your wings with these modest words, is that I
was afraid you'd arrive and I wouldn't know
how to snip the stitches of sorrow that held me together.
I had waited for your melody to unbind my mortal heart.

And now you're ready to leave again,
yet do not tell me where you plan to go.
As I place my ear to your chest and memorize
your heartbeat, clouds amass and churn in our silence.
Wind sings around us because we are in its way.

Published on: 7/15/2010
Spring Cleaning in Winter

I help her throw away two-year-old sour cream,
the nearly empty cleaning products, two, three,
no, six bottles under the sink,
congealed drippings, scent of pine
and winter evening rain. Unopened
mail, paper clips, rubber bands; places to sit
dwindled among jackets, throw bags, outdated
coupons, a small unused photo album.
I step over cat toys, divvy out items
into various rooms, close
her bathroom door for another day.
This is not the first door I have closed,
there have been many --
the musty smell of youth
seeps through the cracks;
dirt and grime from skinned
knees on my bike, the wind I would ride
down the hill, a freedom
I wouldn't know what to do with,
what it meant. I close doors
to preserve, to know I can,
to know doors exist, that transition happens,
that it will happen to me.
I look at the bathroom door --
to me it is a portal, the only
place where I feel the tactile presence
of my body, the softening curves in my hips,
the marks where my son grew inside me.
I trace my calves and thighs,
the rough dry skin, the years of track,
of running in the dark, of becoming a woman.
I have no need to cover
the perishing of my body.
I open the bathroom door again,
look in the mirror as I did
fifteen years ago and reveal myself
through the pandemonium.
And this is where I want to be,
this place of knowing middle
age, not a thing of the future,
not a happening to someone else.
I see her through the doorway,
in the other room, the matted hair,
the bathrobe, the way she stuffs mail
in the over-stuffed holder;
I see her mornings in the piles
of towels on the linoleum.
It's what we do, watch a loved one
live in the luggage of their sadness.
I put another pill bottle in a basket
and close the door.

Published on: 7/15/2010
Any Good Reason

It took all my effort at first
but after time became who I am,
this wanting to ignore
the depth of pain
and just find a plateau. At my hearing
when Mike's father stated to the court how
I did the work of the devil,
the stenographer never looked up,
D - E - V - I - L. Do accidents happen
to you, or do you cause accidents?
While having lunch with a friend
I searched for reasons
why Mike was in a coma.
He said people seek religion after trauma
to answer why; we finished our conversation
in silence. I've never come up with reasons,
only a crisp awareness of timing--
the alcohol in my blood, a sharp left curve,
the shimmering rain--kind of like the atomic bomb
and how the newly invented air-conditioner
cooled the lab until something clicked
and energy leapt through the veins of a moment
stopping time with one loud crash.

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