Final Bow

Candleflame flickers. It bends to the right,
taking a bow before righting itself,
as if someone has just passed

before it. But she sits here alone,
the candle lit in memory of her father,
gone now these nine long months:
the time it takes to grow a child.

She sits and writes and streams NPR
to catch up on the news,
waiting for her family to return to her–
from work, from school, from a pickup game of street soccer–

Dinner is ready: burgers and potatoes. Roasted Brussels sprouts and,
for dessert, the three cupcakes the neighbor brought
for her birthday.

After dinner, they quarter the cupcakes,
decide which one they like best,
the chocolate, the spice, the angelfood cake,
except for her son who eats without tasting
before hurrying back outside to his game.

The dishes are cleared, the table wiped.
She puts on the kettle and blows out the candle,
the memory of her father leafstains on the sidewalk.