Spring 2020 #1
My dead second wife comes to visit, camping out at the foot of my bed, folding in her off-white wings and patiently waiting until I awaken at first light. My dogs don’t even stir. I leave for twenty years, she says, and everything’s gone to hell. All the stores and schools are closed, and the churches are all locked. I’ll wager, she says, this virus is all your fault. She’s carrying a bent steering wheel, and sees me staring at it. That wasn’t my best day, she says. We have airbags now, I tell her, stupidly, and explain what they are. Well, how wonderful for you, she says, ruffling her wet wings. I flew down through some weather to shop. I could have saved myself the trip, but your bald head and gray hair are almost worth the turbulence. One of my dogs sees her and growls. Who’s this? she asks. It’s Fiona, from the pound, I tell her. Go back to sleep, she says gently, and Fiona’s head drops. I don’t remember it being this quiet, she says. Everyone stays inside for now, I tell her, as five white-tails amble through my yard. It seems the wildlife’s roaming free, she says, and maybe that’s for the best. She steps outside, spooks the deer, then disappears with them into the nearby forest.
Bruce Pemberton is a retired high school teacher, coach, and Gulf War veteran. His most recent work has appeared in American Life in Poetry, Duck Lake Journal, Ocotillo Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Rune, Sky Island Journal, Thimble, Third Wednesday, Yellow Medicine Review, and the anthologies, “Spokane Writes”, and “In Tahoma’s Shadow”. He lives on the Palouse, in rural, eastern Washington state.