She’s back among us. Lately, I’ve seen her—
sailing her boat at low tide, pushing
her shopping cart at the market
(scallions and a box of whole-grain cereal).
Her hair has grown out as if she’s trying
not to try so hard. Her eyes, clear, level,
signal, I’m fine. The caw of the fish crow
is short, gruff, a bark rather than a word.
Out on my dock, I need to wind a muffler
over ears and cheeks against the raw wind
blowing on shore. I’ve lost the passwords.
I prefer to take my mornings alone, watching
ripples on Assateague Channel as the tide runs
crossways to the breeze. But seeing her,
the new widow, has made me want to touch
someone’s skin, to know what to say.
A fisherman’s motor drones. He’s standing
in his boat, hovering in the current,
checking traps. Up channel wait the dark
islands, thick wooded, out of reach.
Susan Okie is a poet, medical journalist, and physician who lives in Bethesda, Maryland. She helps teach first-year medical students at Georgetown University about how to talk with patients. She is the author of Fed Up!, a book about the childhood obesity epidemic, and the coauthor, with former-astronaut Sally Ride, of a nonfiction children’s book, To Space and Back. Her poetry has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association and Passager.
“The New Widow” appears in our Spring 2012 issue.