Poetry

Widowing

Prageeta Sharma

My inner controversy of packing up
the last of your studio boxes
towering this new basement that I clean for good. All this in
  year four.

In them I find a lone condom,
a buried treasure of your lost virility.

Was it saying something lonely to me?
And then not to me but to a stranger, another one?

When you were alive
I had found a condom in your computer bag.
You balked—in your stupid rage—
and told me it was so old—from when we used them, back in 2002.

I knew they only have a span of five years; they swim upstream in
      their packages.

This one expired in 2016. You died in 2015. When did you buy
      this last condom?

(Nobody talks about the difficult grieving process of mourning
      your husband and then his secrets and vices, left in corner
      plastic bins.)

But this is why I built a synthetic cave around my
      disappointments
like the chemicals that drowned your sense and reason
and left only an outward charm of deflection like a collected
      banality.

Your sister, a nurse, after washing your body,
cleaned up your Fentanyl patches with their glassine
coverings on the laundry room floor, behind the washer and dryer.

You took it with your chemotherapy, but you were also sneaking
      it for years.

You were always searching for painkillers, hiding them high up
      from me.

Or in your bins, at your studio, full of drawings, cartoons, and
      scribbled poems

that make so obvious how you lived inside yourself with a kind
      of agony,

in your own fallible body, its chronic pain, and what it really
      called forth,
an insatiable carrying of a private penury, your only sojourn.

Prageeta Sharma is the author of Grief Sequence, among other works. She is the founder of Thinking Its Presence, an interdisciplinary conference on race, creative writing, and artistic and aesthetic practices. She teaches at Pomona College.
Originally published:
September 20, 2021

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