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March 23
by Sharmagne Leland-St. John

She's been a widow
for 14 years now
and only recently
has she begun to
try to sleep
in the middle
of the bed again.

Her bed
piled high with pillows

In the early days
before they were married,
at his house,
he slept on the right side,
a round glass topped table
for a night stand.

A small lamp
with pull chains
for reading,
the ever present
stack of books,
box of Kleenex,
a chapstick,
the monogramed note pad,
his Mont Blanc pen
filled with brown ink,
the travel alarm clock
in its leather case.

Beneath the glass,

A silk moire table cloth
met the carpet
on its own terms.

Identical table on her side,
the lamp with its fluted shade,
glass of water,
a few framed photographs
of them together.

A scented candle,
The New York Times crossword puzzle,
her pen filled with plastic
green-ink cartridges
from the dime store,
the latest Joan Didion novel
or one by Bruce Chatwin,
bookmarked and waiting
for a bedtime read.

At her house or before that
at her apartment at La Fontaine
when he stayed over,
she slept on the right side.
They say the person
dominant in the relationship
sleeps on the right.

The sun poured through
4 tall Cathedral lace-curtained windows
on the wall behind the bed.

An antique tea tray served
as a single night stand.
No table cloth
just the highly polished
sheen of the mahogany wood,
the hesitant scent
of lemon Pledge lingering.

2 gun-metal French fops
pose with beeswax candles
coming out the tops
of their heads.
Next to each of them
2 matching bisque færy vases
brim with full bloom roses
and tiny buds, plucked
from terra cotta pots
on her fire escape garden.

a small blue and white
onion patterned pitcher
full of pens
rests on its own
delicately painted saucer.

A backdrop to all this;
the wood and glass frame
with captured butterflies
imprisoned‐tragically displayed…
a gift from Eric to commemorate
their trip to Peru back in 1971,
a netsuke from Richard, a glass nail file,
other small items
that have meaning only to her.

And now she's trying to learn
to abandon the edges
of the bed,
the right and left side,
to sleep in the middle
in that no man's land;
where they used to,
each night,
meet and spoon
through the long, sleep filled,
drowsy hours
in each other's arms.


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