Poems by Deborah Dombrowski



The day you left was honeycombed
with sweetness—a glimmer and shine
outlining the coffee pot, scrubbing the windows
clean. Brightness floods the mirror
although my eyes float slack and water-logged,
my tired fish mouth shaping a tiny, Oh
Oh no—my face drawn in washed out pastels.
Years later, it’s still a twist of the kitchen knife
to recall the brilliance of that morning,
to see again the maples shedding their hot
red leaves as we wove through the park
and dodged heedless runners. Crows avoided us,
dive-bombing the others, but bowing
to my cloudy sorrow. Later, a sleek black angel
flew through my front door to check on me.



After the ocean sweeps through the house
everything is afloat in clear salt water;
a flowered chair bobs up and down
on its way to the next room,
light freckles every surface.

My mother is rowing the sofa, waving
and grinning as she crests the foam
and bumps to a stop in front of the window.
The TV drifts alongside my father’s recliner—
he is tipped back, sipping a glass of cold rose
and catching the tail end of Colombo.

We leave the old folks behind and climb upstairs
to a second floor open to the night sky. A hot wind
blows in over the deck as you turn out the lights.
Lemon and salt scent the air. When I begin
to undress, I see I’m swaddled in a century’s
worth of clothing. First, I remove a woolen cloak,
gingerly unclasp the fur collar, then I shed a silk dress
from a hundred years ago, and silently loosen a cotton
slip tied with thin green ribbons. Under every layer
is another layer. Finally, I am smooth as a shell
in a tide pool, and you are lost to sleep —
dreaming of the water below.