Through a winter window
By Gay Baines
she saw, next to the pool, partly hidden,
a dark shape, a coat on a plastic chair, or
a branch from the dark box elder
that leans over the hooded
patio. Wind moved the shape,
and she saw it had an arm, two feet,
a sallow face that gazed eastward,
over the ice-sheeted pool, as if
waiting for a ship to plow through
the ice and greenish water
below the shroud of black plastic.
She waited, upstairs, her feet on the iron
register, feeling the heat rush up,
warming her morning-ached body,
and sensing she knew the entity
on the patio, and wanted to
leave it at that.
The sun warmed her cheek when
she went to the pool gate. The black
and white cat who lies on the hood
of her car slunk under the fence,
giving her a wary look. Was it you,
small fry? she asked, but the cat
hurtled out of the yard.
The dark cloak hung in the air by the cedar table,
unmoving. She unhooked the gate,
walked back to the patio. Expecting
a ghoul with a face out of Munch,
she found a shadow, a satellite-prickle
tiny squares gathering, fading, coalescing.
In a blink she saw a woman in a
black trench coat, with a pale face
that turned toward her, then gazed
east again – the dense pool, the
imaginary ship. What ship?
She knew the face, but it took two
weeks, rainy days, pouring over photos.
Here it was, the bottom of the box,
a soft face in a crowd, a black-and-white
taken years ago. Herself, at a time
of chaos, future and dreams.
GAY BAINES lives and writes in East Aurora. A longtime member of the Roycroft Wordsmiths, she is the co-owner and co-editor of July Literary Press.