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1941

Your gazes lock across the blue, checkered tablecloth
while the winter breeze, seeping through the cracked window pane,
mixes with the fragrance of Sasha’s cabbage simmering
next door.
You cooked the yellow squash with butter
and cinnamon, the way he likes it.
“Eat, dear,” you say, and push at the steaming bowl.
He takes three polite bites, offers a gentle smile
over the jar of holly you picked that morning,
but he is a stone at your table.

As the setting sun pulls down the night, the finality
of this day is punctuated by the sound of doors thumping
in the twilight. You imagine houses along the street
transforming into shelters of lamplight and muffled laughter
while your supper grows cold between you.
Still later, you rummage through the woven basket, searching
for thread, the pincushion, and a needle
to repair his homespun shirt and darn your stockings.

He sits at the opposite end of the sofa and raises his newspaper wall.
The headline shouts back at you, the only sound in the room.
Roosevelt. A date which will live in infamy.
Once you believed if the sky cracked open, you could mend it with
delicate stitches and no visible scars.
Now, you finish sewing and surrender your
Needles, thread, and thimble back into your basket,
fasten the latch, and look up to see the paper wall
crumpled in his lap. Your heart catches at the unknown
and his commitment to stand on the front lines. Before you turn away,
you study him like that, head thrown back, sleeping. An island now,
even your nimble fingers can’t secure.
--Hazel D., Adult