The windows were pristine
Not a speck on the carpet
All decorations in perfect synchronization
It was a model home--her pride, her epitaph
In her daily exercise of straightening up
She shuffled into her well-ordered closet
To replace her charcoal wool coat on a hanger
As she did, small white clouds rained down onto the floor

From a dark corner she could see
A silvery-white twinkle with light
Like snow in a barren winter garden
Shimmer and lace in the black, untouched hold
She pressed the dress in front of her,
and grinned in a Cinderella spin
"It still fits", said the spotless mirror
Her thick mane matched the veil so well
She couldn't tell where one ended and one began
She rehung the dress, groaning as she leaned down
Straightening the skirt from under the shredded plastic cover
When she saw what appeared to be a sawdust trail
Leading to a ragged old box

She tried to move it, but things began spilling over it
Yellow notes, little words, kissed-on smiles
Cologne-scented declarations of devotion
A large envelop of cards ending in,"I love you"
An image in a dirty picture frame
How naive she was then
Holding out her left hand to show a sparkling finger
But all she could see was how she sparkled
Like a cloudless sky full of stars in her eyes
The picture frame clashed with her other hangings
She turned it over and placed it in the bottom of the box

When she noticed something stuck to the back
A ragged newspaper clipping held together with tape
With a familiar, handsome face
Image blurred, corners haggardly curled
"Survived only by his sister", it read
The frazzled edges disturbed her
And as she examined the box
A tiny hole could be seen in the corner
The old mouse was back

She returned to her crystalline window
Pulled her feet up onto the couch
It had grown deeply silent
The kind of silence so overwhelming
It makes you hear things you don't want to hear
Little sounds, tickled laughs
The clatter of a first kiss
Heavy sighs in morning
Keys dropped on the kitchen table with regret
The clamp of the ring disappearing into the box
Like pushing a pearl back into an oyster
A note that read
"I'd rather live in darkness
Than watch you setting with the sun"

Like plinking a bad note on the church piano
With a stuck pedal
Never gone, never gone
In her mind she presses her trembling hand against the piano string
But it plays and replays that same old song,
"Though dreamers dream within their hearts
This is now, that was then
The saddest song you will ever hear
It could've been, it could have been"

Squinting tightly to shield her eyes from the setting sun
Fingers of time reached out from their corners
With rivers of possibilities that went nowhere
And where the light left and entered her soul
From her depths began to overflow
"Those flower boxes on the porch were such a great idea",
She thought,"He was never very good with delicate flowers"
And in a most uncomfortable, awkward position
She leaned on her right elbow
And fell asleep

June 6, 12:50pm,
Copyright 2009 Michael Paul