He arrives at the bookstore

lilies ablaze on one arm, a cane on the other.

Haltingly he walks into a neon haze,

his face scanning the aisles for me.

Married again with three children,

his MS progressing, he's not the cocky

young man.  He sits off a bit from the others,

face averted as I read.  I'm nervous

and then I'm annoyed at myself.

Back then, how the poems scared us.

Whenever I wrote, he'd come up behind me

ordering juice or lunch, anything to peer over 

my shoulder, to find whatever wildness in me

was on the page.  Even now I wonder

what might hurt him, what I should hide.

But later, when we have coffee, he

strokes the book cover, his hand gliding

over my name.  He's shy, but he's clearly pleased,

remembering fragments, people we knew,

places we lived.

  Awed by what falls away,

from the terrible mistakes we make -

I nearly burn my tongue on the latte.

Once my Husband

                      for Robert

Priscilla Orr