There is a cabin by the bouldered beaches
of Northern California,
where the pines practically toe the foam.
This is where he’ll go, and off will come
his tailored suits,
his lacquered shoes,
his streak of blood-red tie.
I’ll wash the product from his hair in a rusted claw-foot tub
and trim him down to a length that stands on end,
like chick fluff.
Ignoring his curses and flailing limbs,
for I am much stronger than he,
I will dress him in a thick sweater knit by a woman
who does not know his name.
When I remove the mirrors,
I will sense his relief beneath the rage.
When I pull the phone from his hand
I’ll see the desperation rounding out
the vowel sounds of his pursed-lipped moans.
I’ll give him a golf club and let him scream
and break what is not his.
When he is finished I will cradle him
but let him live in the shattered mess of his making.
I will return and leave, return and leave
and one day he will rejoice to see my face.
One day I will carry books under my arm
and together we will learn to read.
He will labor over those slow words
one hundred and forty characters at a time
until the events chain together
and become something painful and complicated.
I find him one day trying to climb boulders.
I find him one day barefoot on the sand
holding a flat stone, having crushed open a crab,
looking down at the nothing reflected back and forth.
I find him crying his frustration late at night,
his hands running fingers through gray stubble from chin to scalp.
He looks at the ocean longer and longer
and his face sags in the quiet of thoughts emerging,
before retreating into the churn once again.
He tries to throw me on the bed,
but I am much stronger than he,
and we both know that it has been a long, long time
since he has truly desired in that way.
He asks for ice cream and I bring him a glass of water.
One day I come, find him sitting in the wooden chair outside,
crying at Cedric Diggory’s death.
He is proud of those tears
but I know they would not have come
had Cedric been less beautiful.
One day he does not get up and I add another quilt
on top of the old man and watch
his breathing shallow and slow.
We look at each other as he fades.
He does not ask for his children,
or his wives.
He asks for an ice cream, which I bring,
and he does not thank me.
Bonnie Rae Walker's poetry has been published in such journals as Red Paint Hill Poetry Journal, Steel Toe Review, Whale Road Review and more. As well, she is forthcoming in the 2018 Sixteen Rivers Press political anthology. To find out more visit www.bonnieraewalker.com.