It is too dark in the morning still,
and I can’t find the light switch to save the banana bread
forgotten on the counter last night.
In the dark, I feel the untouched foil
where the cats haven’t yet found it cooling;
there is still some warmth, as my fingers reinforce the silvered seal around
Outside, the horse becomes a broken statue in the corner of our yard.
The dog has started to stretch and the cats with their tiny, belled collars
weave tuneful figure eights about my legs, then move to judge me from
across the room,
I examine the contents of the refrigerator for lunches, then slice the banana
bread for breakfast;
each move is a thoughtful delay.
There is the sound of the first faucet being turned on upstairs.
The sleepy water trickles through the old house somewhere down and
between the kitchen walls.
Then one by one, more slow footsteps rasp on the wooden floors above,
muffled only by the slip of area rugs where Legos are hidden and dirty socks
I hear the forced closure of bureau drawers, where too many clothes have
been stuffed and remain unfolded from last week’s laundry.
I know that if I go to check on them—if they are too slow and groggy, and
I’ve already spotted the bus beginning its route on the county road across
I’ll have to ask them to pick up the towels on the floor, the toys, the clothes
—to clean the toothpaste painted across the bathroom sink.
I’ll want to keep them
and I’ll want to send them off.
But now I linger at the base of the stairs,
making everything else wait
while I miss the way their rooms smelled when they were babies
and already miss the mess they’ll leave behind.