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Apr/May 2008 Poetry Special Feature

The Widow on Maple Street Carried a Collection of Feathers

by Elizabeth Bruno


The Widow on Maple Street Carried a Collection of Feathers

Her husband died in their garden bed one morning, drew in the scent
of peony, then fell to his knees like a born-again. She found him
covered in birdsóblue jays, cardinals, yellow warblers. When her eyes

first settled on him, she thought him beautiful, all primary-colored, sleeping,
light as catkins. She plucked a feather from each bright bird, placed them
under her pillow. We think the widow held them in her hands

while she slept, drew in the scent of peony, then waited for it to claim her.
At her funeral, she wore a shroudóa collection of black lace rosettes
resting over cheekbones, over pink polyantha lips. Before they closed

her casket, someone thought they saw a breath leave her mouth, watched
as the lace rippled in three small waves. The most beautiful parts were
the scent of peony that came after, the way the birds scattered from the trees.

 

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