Check.


We’re trying to support cows

so there is no milk

and we’re trying to pay the bills

so there is no milk substitute

and this morning I crawl

to my husband’s side of the bed

and ask, “Will you get up

and have breakfast with me?”

So he does.

We never have breakfast

together. He is at work

by the time I arise

from the bed we share

with our two dogs.

This morning I watch him

put soy protein powder

isolate into his tea cup.

I didn’t know he did this

but apparently he can’t have his tea

black. The British confound me.

I sit quietly at the table

like a good girl.

I’ve been a good girl

all week since my dad

was diagnosed with stage IV

melanoma of the colon and liver

across the Atlantic. He’ll die

within a year and we never had more

than one good conversation

in fifteen years—not over his yelling,

his loud paranoia, the echoing

clicks to control

like a chess player seeking

to steal the marble queen

put the opponent in check.

So I’ve been in check.

All week. I’ve made the phone calls

and sat quietly watching

my husband over the oak

table sipping protein tea.

I don’t want to lose this

so I leave

and go to the store

to buy milk

but on the way

I see the fields of wheat

swaying in the breeze

like lovers dancing

after the war

and I begin to weep

that a man could lose this

not see this, or trees, anymore.

By the time I’m in the orchard

of cars in the tar lot

I’ve remembered the plight

of cows and remembered that check

is not check-mate until its over

that marble and water are elemental lovers

and that the ocean pools and spills

lifetimes of silence.

© Julie Bolitho. “Check.” Poem. Albatross. University of Chester Press: 2010, pg. 4.

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© Julie Bolitho 2018