Carol Smallwood… After Dirk


After Dirk

My house is now very clean; I can rest in its sterility. There are nights I cannot sleep from wanting him; I must believe I’ll see him again to ward off the chill of fall.

I pace supermarkets while country music singers belt songs of undying love. The last survey I made was pasta: rotini, elbows, rigatoni, bow ties, twists (they also came in colors), angel hair, fettuccine, manicotti, mostaccioli, lasagna, penne, shells (various sizes), ruffles, vermicelli—and then egg noodles and spaghetti also in various sizes. I arranged them alphabetically as I wrote them. And compared prices and brands. Once I surveyed spirals of luncheon meats, rings of bologna, stacked hot dogs: most were a mixture of turkey, chicken, pork, beef, and chemicals. I wrote the chemicals in symbols I remembered from chemistry class. And compared prices and brands.

Most enjoyable, however were facial tissues: row after row of boxes. Flowers were the most popular design. Ultra soft, scented, environmentally safe, strengthened, allergenic, pop-up, baby blue, petal pink, sunny yellow, classic white. I’d pick the most comforting and pretend to buy it.
When I looked at the rainbow of scented candles with matching labels, the meadow flowers candle conjured up the spring with Boyd, the yellow citrus the fleck in one of Cal’s jackets, the blue the shore I paced thinking of Doctor, the purple with Mitchell’s heather.

Across from the candles were the detergents smelling so good you knew their claims must be true. But what did “extreme clean” mean? Was “mountain fresh” better than “spring rain”?”
Deep clean” better than “ultra clean”—or was “advanced action” better? Many had labels radiating rainbows.

Jenny said I looked younger and Mark whistled with raised eyebrows when I wore my new dress to church. I hadn’t washed it because I wanted to keep it the way I’d worn it with Dirk.


Carol Smallwood’s books include Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching, foreword by Molly Peacock (McFarland, 2012) on Poets & Writers Magazine list of Best Books for Writers; Divining the Prime Meridian (WordTech Editions, 2014); Bringing the Arts into the Library (American Library Association, 2014). Carol supports humane societies.

Copyright © 2014 by Carol Smallwood






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