I’m not sure you know how much I adore you, by Katherine Pisarro-Grant

How you had cordoned off that garden square for the laundry line
came back to me
in an overwhelming trance of memory –
how we had to be careful
when plucking the fruits of our wardrobe, fresh from the wind,
not to spill the garments on the ground
and cake them with dirt and nullify the last day’s work.

When else since has infinity accompanied such a chore,
the yard on a ledge, the edge of Obreadsville,
that broad python, White River, peaceful and foamy
and shallow from the summer’s drought?

You said you didn’t know why you preferred
the toiletlessness and the clothespins, but it seemed
it was a tradeoff for the lucrative daily steams
with the coffee scrub and beer shampoo,
Dead Sea soap and the kids’ voices toeing earshot.

And also for the pine walls and the baking bread,
and fresh kebab, ice-cold shots and sugary wine.

You were always the last one and the first one up,
but giddy over staying up drinking and talking til 5 AM
with your husband, like a schoolgirl again.

You told me never to have three kids
(especially no twins), you doubted that my boyfriend
wasn’t jealous when I got on the motorcycle with Aleksei.

You became ever more frustrated with my difficulty following
your rapidfire chatter and began to ask “Ponimayesh?” after
even the simplest things. (The more I spoke this damn language,
the more it eluded me.)

You told me not to drink too much on my birthday, and like
I would with my own mother, I reassured you that I wouldn’t
(though of course outdrinking the natives was the night’s true goal)
and came home tottering but intact,
and for once you were already asleep.

I’m not sure you realized how much I adored you and the others,
how impossible it was to express my gratitude for your open doors
and the cottage cheese pancakes you made me in the morning
and how you worried that Anton wasn’t feeding me enough.

I missed you when you stayed out of the city on weekends,
and I was touched when you gave me that amber necklace
and told me the stones were good for female circulation
(or was it hormones?).

Were you joking when you asked how soon I’d forget you?
I could never forget you, and I could never agree
that you were any less beautiful than you were before the babies.

You told me I looked sad in the evenings, and yes, I said,
I missed my friends, but being here was everything.

At first the country weekends seemed stifling,
until they were almost over, and then they were shimmering.

Maybe what you liked most of all was that what it was
to inhabit this hamlet was what it always was.

Katherine Pisarro-Grant studies English and Russian language and literature. Her favorite word for “ocean” is the Old English “whale-road.”

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