By Jennifer Campbell
Your grand walk-in now half-empty,
bathroom counter cleared of perfumes,
we enter the bedroom, jewelry boxes
waiting a sorting. We set aside pearls
and a bracelet for your daughter.
She’s never worn a fancy necklace.
Your husband can’t watch, hides
in the kitchen among kids and noise.
We lift rings and gems gingerly,
guilty over taking too much,
ashamed to admit “That’s not my taste.”
I leave with a few things I can see you in.
I try to forget your perfect skin
bloated with poison, your ringed left hand,
white feet of a child, unlined and ever-soft.
You were almost permitted back in the light,
your husband an uncomfortable Orpheus,
nagged always by a need to save others
from a stumble. When you slipped
into the underworld a second time,
having been permitted both a chance
and certain end, we all felt suspended –
a sad note struck so many times
its echoes aren’t pauses but constant sound.
JENNIFER CAMPBELL will read from her work at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday as the featured guest of the SUNY Empire State College Literary Series at the Appletree Business Park, 2875 Union Road in Cheektowaga. She is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, “Driving Straight Through” (Foothills Publishing, 2008) and “Supposed to Love” (Saddle Road Press, 2013). A co-editor of Earth’s Daughters magazine, she is an English professor at Erie Community College, where she received the 2010 Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities.