by Cindy Appleby

I walk through her house saying goodbye to all of the rooms. I sit on the floor in her bedroom, my back against the wall, and stare at the blank space above where her bed used to be. I fix my gaze on the wall where the floral wallpaper hasn't faded, where previously hung a small sampler reading, “To Love and Be Loved is the Greatest Joy on Earth.” I have taken it as a reminder.

The house is mostly empty now, revealing shabby carpets, cracking dull walls. I walk through the house seeking grief, wanting it to penetrate me, so I can let go of the house where I spent all of my childhood summers, Sundays after church, school sick days, every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I sit on the couch in my spot for the last time, and try to imagine her sitting across from me in the empty space where her blue chair, now sold, used to be. Sitting very still, I wait to feel her spirit wash over me, but nothing comes.

In the backyard are brightly painted silver poles, now rusted,
plastic cords sagging between them,
remnants of her laundry ritual.
I have memories of her homemade basket
with mountains of clothes, towels and sheets,
her faithful patience as she waited
for bright blue skies to welcome the task,
the steady repetition of her hands reaching down,
pegging each item in a tidy row,
shirts and sheets dancing in a hopeful breeze,
readying themselves for her return.

Cindy Appleby is a teacher living between Raleigh and Asheville, North Carolina. This is her first attempt at poetry, compelled by a need to write in order to process the death of her beloved grandmother.