More women than you can imagine
eat breakfast alone
at a small table near a window
that looks out
on not much of anything.
The radio talks to them
of killings and the weather.
Some of the women are smiling.
Perhaps they grow geraniums
on their windowsill, are pleased
with the color.
More women than you think
sleep in a Murphy bed. They
push the heavy frame into the wall
in the morning, lower it at night,
dress it with sheets, a blanket,
a blue-striped seersucker spread.
But this is not a lament.
They sleep well most nights.
falls on the rose-patterned carpet.
And there are more women than you might imagine who
take care of old men who have forgotten
the names of the women
and the names of the sons and the daughters.
These are the men who are not sure
of a spoon. Sometimes they can be told
how to hold and lift it. Other times
a spoon is a conch shell pearled
in mystery. Then the women
put bibs on the old men who cannot remember
and feed them.
Nothing here should surprise us.
More women than you imagine
teach themselves to live
in that slim space between now and tomorrow.
"The Women" appears in A Cartography of Peace, Passager Books, 2005.