I spent the Christmas after your death hunched
above a puzzle; it had a thousand pieces,
the unmatched angles of a forest caught by early snow,
bright yellow leaves still clinging to their branches.
The photograph on the box was so clear
I could see each crack of rock, each leaf hung
above the brink of winter. The pieces lay scattered
about my dining room, a mess of white and yellow
waiting for me to set it right, so many thousands
of leaves, so much crumbling. Who could count?
Even a sister, even a wife of ten years
one day gets out of bed and puts on red
either because it’s Christmastime again
or because the black dresses sit unwashed in the laundry
and there’s nothing left to wear. I told myself
the leaves weren’t worth it. I told myself you were just
another falling. I did the laundry every day.
I never solved the puzzle.
Originally published in Post Road.