I am thinking of the verb “to conspire,”
_____of urgency and stasis,
__________of places we intended to travel,
_______________of delicacies I wish I had baked for you.
____________________Of wishes. Of you.

I am thinking of the book of names,
_____how it tells me that yours was a contraction.
__________I am thinking of how Augustine became Austin,
_______________how saint is muddled with brother,
____________________how all things turn to absence.

I am thinking of how I vowed to leave things as you had known them,
_____how I had purchased new paint for my kitchen
__________(the color of blueberries)
_______________but now, months later, it remains in its can,
____________________abandoned to a room I rarely enter.

I am thinking of how I meet each day in a black v-neck shirt,
_____one of the five I bought the week of your funeral.
__________I am thinking of how my body has started to rebel,
_______________how this morning, after I zipped my favorite skirt,
____________________I felt it slip to the floor, my hips suddenly too slender to hold it.

I am thinking of how I’ve forgotten how to eat,
_____how the chanterelles I planned to sauté have languished in my refrigerator,
__________how the citrus, now mushy, caves in when I try to cradle it,
_______________how the cilantro leaves look like lily pads, brown with slime.
____________________I am thinking of decay.

I am thinking of how I called you on the night before you tried to die,
_____how my husband was making pasta,
__________how the evening seemed lovely and safe,
_______________how we felt extravagant—cooking with real butter,
____________________with cream, with two types of cheese.

I remember how as you talked,
_____the kitchen filled with the scent of garlic, lemon, mint.
__________I remember that the meal was filling.
_______________I am thinking of how reckless we were,
____________________how we left the dishes for morning.

I am wondering if, that night, you had already decided.
_____I am thinking of those dinner dishes, how the next morning,
__________the call came, and we left them still unwashed.
_______________I remember how on every day I spent in Alabama
____________________(by your deathbed, at your grave, cleaning out your kitchen)

I thought of how we would return home to mold,
_____how things must be sprouting on the remnants of our meal.
__________I remember doing research,
_______________reading about mycotoxins, Rhizopus, Penicillium.
____________________I remember sounding out the words,

preparing for what might await.
_____I remember how, each time someone well-meaning
__________spoke of how you’d become one of the angels I don’t believe in,
_______________I imagined fuzzy white halos encircling tangles of moss.
____________________I remember a vision:

something that looked like cotton candy
_____spreading across my favorite skillet.
__________I remember thinking it would probably be one of those lethal molds,
_______________remember thinking that it looked lovely anyhow.
____________________I remember how, after being gone for three weeks,

I walked into the house and realized that nothing had grown in our absence.
_____I am thinking of how I stood over those dishes and wept,
__________how desperately I had hoped to witness something thriving,
_______________how even if it was invasive,
____________________I needed to watch it blossom.

Elizabeth Wade