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New Widow

Wind scatters leaves as I approach the house.
The geranium he hung lies on the floor.
The same porch board’s loose. The coir mat sheds.
I fumble for the key and push at the door
that opens to guitar amps, music books
and cardboard boxes left by the man
who asked me not to touch his clothes
or toss the newspapers till he came home
from the hospital, sorted through the stuff
once and for all to organize his life.

About the poet:

Elizabeth Gaffney teaches writing and literature at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, NY, where she holds the rank of SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor. She has published poems in literary journals and magazines. She is writing a book on grief, through which she hopes to offer strategies and comfort to people who suffer loss.

About the poem:

“My husband died of a pulmonary embolism two days after surgery. He was fifty-six. I wrote this poem in the autumn weeks after his sudden death. Coming home to an empty house shocked me every single day. He died alone, and our three children and I had to pick up what he left. There was no closure.”

Poetry editors:

Johanna Shapiro and Judy Schaefer