The Sudden End

by Darius Stewart

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 has authored three chapbook collections: The Terribly Beautiful (2006), Sotto Voce (2008), and The Ghost the Night Becomes (2014), winner of the Gertrude Press Poetry Chapbook Competition. He has been a frequent contributor to storySouth in addition to publishing new and recent work in Appalachian HeritageCallalooMeridianChelsea Station Magazine, the Good Men Project, the Potomac ReviewVerse Daily and numerous others. He is a bartender in Knoxville, TN, where he lives somewhat comfortably with his dog, Fry.