She walks quietly down the moonlit stairs,
Bras, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, panties (not the matrimonial ones),
The ones married women wear when babies born are long gone,
And the years too many to count, when lovemaking is easy, reverently done.
Walking steadily, not a smile, lips pursed, box in hand.
Prayer, faith, preaching, religion, counseling, fasting . . .
Four pairs, black, red, white, nude, makeup, soap,
Mailbox keys in right pocket, purse, handbag, hand sanitizer,
Birth certificate, social security card, prescriptions and pads,
Car keys in left pocket, wallet in bag, note to call mom.
There is the car, parked in A1, open the car trunk and passenger side door.
No hungry mouths to feed but his, her unsold paintings plaster the bedroom walls,
The chains are now broken, the walls have come down,
Put the key in the ignition, drive, drive, he will pay all the bills now.
Drive, drive, this time no turning back.
He stands in the doorway, cries, wishful words, romantic overtures,
Useless innovations, watches the car leave, never a look, nor a glance behind.
Her side of the bed is still warm and clean,
Clothes still in the closet, jewelry box in the bathroom, books on the shelf,
The ring sits on the tabletop.
Fussing, doctors, pills, bleeding emotions,
They sat in the office, wall decorated with prestigious awards and decorations,
He said chances are there will be none.
They stayed together for very long.
The Almighty God knows when the spirit is no longer willing, able, or strong.
You said it wasn’t an option, that God would not permit it.
We stood before the altar as I planted the ring on your finger.
Call you Mom, Dad, Sister, our pastor, God, the people in attendance . . .
Dirty dishes in the sink, laundry to be done.
The car made its way through the driveway, and the headlights came on.
Brenton Cross was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to the United States when he was a young adult. He has studied theology and literary theory, earning a BA in biblical studies and an MMin from Criswell College, and a PhD in humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas; he currently teaches philosophy and humanities at Midland College in Midland, Texas. Brenton has a passion for supporting and serving disenfranchised communities and for depicting the complexity of personal relationships.