The Widow at Solstice

While I chop a mirepoix in my bright, steamy kitchen,
she sits at the pine table and sips a tiny tumbler of Zinfandel
one-quarter water. I ask,
“Would you like to see my Sierra Club calendar?”

And like a traveler lost in a map
she drifts in the days gone by
turning the pages over and over
January through December

As the onions sweeten, she drinks a whiskey
one-quarter water
gazes at flamingos in February, leopards in March, lupine, harp seals, and manatee
then she raises her head and says brightly
even cheerfully with considerable animation

Ala bebo ala bibo
Ala bebo bibo bum
Bum get a rat trap
Bigger than a cat trap
Ala bebo ala bibo
Ala bebo bibo bum

I smile. This one is new to me.

She is full of surprises.

Together, we look at the month of December and she asks,
“When is Christmas, and what was the day my husband died?”
Today is the winter solstice
and I explain the difference
Solstice. Equinox.

She nods and says,
“Oh yes, that’s sensible. After the solstice, the days get longer
and the light begins to return.”