The Room

Betty Adcock

BPR 47 | 2020

                    —for Don (1924–2011)

Perhaps the breath you left in our house,
our fifty years there, your living-ness, has gone
altogether, five years after.

Room after room was drained of you in the necessary
giving away of your clothes, the storing in a trunk
of the flute, your baton, your boyhood keepsakes.

I kept what was in the one drawer where you held on
to every little thing, my letters, jazz programs,
even our swizzle sticks from Birdland saved.

The photographs at Topsail Island, in Greece, Italy,
Ireland, and the everyday ones stay. They hang
in my new place, my interim life. From here

I can go into the room I dream
late in my sleep, morning just silvering the sky,
the room that is and is not, but is part

of the mind’s dwelling. I go there
where grief is the only doorway
to a space with its own parameters,

where you can take shape. I mustn’t lose it
as I’ve been advised to do. It holds even
the smell of you, your hands, your voice

I can hear only in the not-dark, not-light
where your music is always starting
to thread the air like memory’s birdsong.

It offers a beginning, if one long past.
Wherever I am, I’ll undertake to go there.
Just before I wake.