The Aftertime

No one went anywhere very much
anymore. Parked cars sat 
idle on each street. All summer, 
windshields gathered fallen 
crepe myrtles. In fall, a thick 
sifting of dry pine needles. 
In kitchen drawers we found 
soup spoons that needed
polishing, a blue-green  
teapot that was a gift
years ago; a pair of glass
candlesticks, handpainted, 
never used. As if it were 
Christmas, we took them out
and marveled; finally
we lay them on the table,
poured tea, lit tapers. 
We wouldn't run out of books
yet, though as the year 
dwindled down, there wasn't 
much light to read by. 
News of family and friends
came, delivered as if 
by the same service 
that brought us bread and eggs,
meat and onions— who was sick,   
recovering, dead. Meanwhile,  
boots, going-out shoes, mid-
heel pumps, sandals, satchels, 
business suits, hats, dressy
dresses remained in closets,
hoping they wouldn't so soon
go out of style. Those
who were alone longed 
for company; those who lived
with many others wished 
sometimes for reprieve.
Everyone imagined the day
that was coming very soon 
when undertakers became
non-essential workers, 
when there'd be room again 
for grass in graveyards.  

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