Two weeks after my friend’s death, her husband calls, wants to get together and talk about her secret life. I know what he’s doing. He’s searching through belongings, studying pictures of her with large glasses, big hair, and a young son tethered to her neck. He’s reading letters from her life-long pen-pal, wondering what words are painted on the other side of the canvas. He wants to know the her before their five years together, wants me to share twenty-five years of tender gifts unwrapped in my brain. I can’t think of anything secret. He already knows about the stripper I hired for her thirty-fifth birthday. Best birthday ever, she always said. A night of steak, wine, a muscular man gyrating to a boom box and the squeals of several women. Maybe it’s realization that the shape of new memories has dissolved into sand or that the power of addition, five years plus another twenty-five, equals a life, that’s made him call. My secret: I want spring to bring more than sweet-smelling blossoms to my tulip tree, and deep-red berries to the holly. I want my friend to jump up, leave her cancer in damp dirt, wave her arms, and shout.
Robin Wright lives in Southern Indiana. Her work has appeared in Rue Scribe, Panoply, Terror House Magazine, Rune Bear, Another Way Round, Ariel Chart, Bindweed Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, Indiana Voice Journal, Peacock Journal, and others. Two of her poems were published in the University of Southern Indiana’s 50th anniversary anthology, Time Present, Time Past. Panoply has nominated one of her poems for a Pushcart Prize.