Winter 2000 • Vol. XXII No. 1 Poetry |

The Bench

It's all like a bad riddle, our widow friend said at the time. If a tree falls in the woods and kills your husband, what can you build from it? That she was speaking quite literally we did not know until the day months later the bench arrived, filling that foyer space in the house the neighbors pitched in to finish. She'd done it, she said, for the sake of the boys, and was never more sure of her purpose than when they were off, playing in the woods their father loved, somewhere out of earshot, and she would be struggling in with groceries. For her, it was mostly a place to rest such a weight, where other arms might have reached to lift what they could. Or like the time we knocked at her door, and finding it just ajar, cautiously entered the sunstruck hallway, and saw her sitting there staring into space, before she heard our steps and caught herself, turning smiling toward us, a book left lying open on the bench beside her.

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