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A Death in the Family
by Frederick W. Bassett

From where I stood in the crowded
living room of the second house
he had built for her (this one in town),
I could see his handsome face,
the smile so artfully wired in place.
His cold ears were deaf
to her soft monotonic voice
telling us about their courtship,
how young she was, so innocent
she knew nothing about the world,
the possibilities it might offer her.
How devoted he was to her
and their two daughters. Always
a hardworking man, a good provider.
I looked again at his mouth,
forever still as a painted horizon.
I had never heard even one curse
word slip through those lips,
but from my aunt's confidante,
I had heard about his warning.
Only now my memory waffles.
I thought he said he would kill her
if she left him for the doctor she loved.
Whatever the truth, she stayed with him,
waited nine years for that day of sorrow
to tell us only how good he was.

Previously published in Poem (November, 2014)  

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