I wonder how my uncle’s wife is getting along without him. I wonder if she’s hungry or thirsty for a glass of water; does she feel it’s worth it to unwrap herself from the afghan she lies on the couch cocooned inside to go to the kitchen, take a plate from the cabinet to make a sandwich or does she forgo the bread altogether & fold together slices of deli cheese & salami, spread them with mayonnaise rolled up like edible cigars as she leans against the counter in her half-darkened kitchen nibbling deliberately like a small mouse ear-cocked to every minor noise & echo as if she has only a slight chance of vanishing before anyone can discover her being normal again? I wonder if she gulps from the jug of water left all day on the counter because. Does the back door stay unlocked until she’s certain she won’t receive any unannounced visitors, mostly family & friends arriving after work with their small talk as if it were a suitcase bulging with all the great amenities their lives could never do without? I wonder if she pours herself a whiskey & sits in the silent living room with the flowers wilting & desperate for water, the stems more woody than green, as if she intends to grow a tree in the middle of the room, where she can lie against it on those days when she simply wants to draw the curtains to allow in as much sunshine as possible. But knowing her, it could be gray skies with only a single crepuscular ray breaking through the gray clouds & she’d be content with that. She wouldn’t call it a silver lining but a blessing from god, which makes me wonder if she can ever listen to orchestral music from the Romantics, as I do now, at once thinking of her & dosing off, fighting against the bombast of horns & strings like a chorus of hummingbird wings too close to the ear, even if she’ll never understand what beautiful creatures those composers made of notes, how the music exists even in the breath marks, when you have but only a brief moment to breathe & continue on without ever feeling the sudden end.

DARIUS STEWART is a former fellow of the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets and the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas-Austin, where he graduated with an M.F.A. in poetry. His poems appear in Appalachian Heritage, Callaloo, The Seattle Review, Meridian, Poet Lore, Verse Daily, and two volumes of The Southern Poetry Anthology. He is the author of two chapbooks published in the Main Street Rag Poetry Chapbook Series: The Terribly Beautiful (2006) and Sotto Voce (2008), and his third chapbook, The Ghost the Night Becomes (2014), won the Gertrude Press Poetry Chapbook Prize. He currently resides in his hometown, Knoxville, TN, with his dog, Philip J. “Fry.”