by Katharyn Howd Machan

He hadn’t started drinking yet—or
if he had he hid it well, deep
in the back room of the basement
with the wooden crates, dim boxes.
Music had begun to slide away
from pulse and fingers, hands on keys
a helpless shake and slip and skip
as his hair grayed within the mirror
only his wife kept clean. He didn’t
say too much when the phone stopped ringing,
just bought more and more cigarettes to hide,
pretending the back lawn needed mowing
or the dog had to go outside. Maybe
he had already started drinking
and that’s why the band let him go.
Sleeping till noon, wife running their business
alone, too loving to know.

Copyright 2015, Katharyn Howd Machan

Katharyn Howd Machan, author of 32 published collections (most recently Wild Grapes: Poems of Fox, Finishing Line Press, 2014), is Professor of Writing at Ithaca College. In 2012 she edited Adrienne Rich: A Tribute Anthology (Split Oak Press).

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