Tuesday, November 1, 2022





Black witch moth

poses between certainty and superstition

above the threshold,

where others would hang a horseshoe or cross.


According to folklore from the Rio Grande

to Jamaica by way of Brazil,

Death follows when he enters,

but we do not fear fate.


My husband’s father passed last week,

so we welcome the moth into the quiet

of our Sunday routine.


All morning, he remains in place

as we slump to sofas to read news and novels,

walk dogs, play scrabble.

He vanishes without sound or ceremony,

a soul come to say goodbye.


Widow’s Words Unspoken 


When you flatlined, I slumped in the hospital chair,

My disappointment and sweaty thighs

supported by industrial-grade vinyl,

your waxy fingers twisted into my wrinkled palm.


How dare you desert me after sixty-odd years!

leaving me nothing but a funeral to plan

for a smattering of unfamiliar belonging to our son’s friends,

and the new pastor, a young man with no Sunday morning memories

of you highlighting scripture from a third-row pew.


Why couldn’t you have dropped dead twenty years ago?

I had prospects.


I might have returned to nursing,

assisting doctors as they corrected cleft palates

under a Honduran canopy of trailing vines and squawking macaws.


Or sailed from Seattle to Alaska with my sister

to watch blue-green icebergs shiver southward

slowly as women of a certain age,

their true depths hidden like underwater shipwrecks

they left behind.


I could have married Bob after Martha died.

So often, I’ve pictured the two of us

like Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson,

fishing for trout in a snow-fed Colorado stream,

real-life stars of a late-in-life rom-com.


Instead, I suffered twenty-five years

watching you piddle your retirement away

at home- repairing broken radios, flipping channels,

or emailing distant cousins

to trace your family tree back to Adam and Eve.


Now Bob’s got Alzheimer’s, and my sister’s gone,

as has my ability to navigate the wheeled walker across rooms

without knocking over stacks of your Elmer Kelton westerns,

and medicine bottles you left unscrewed,

spilling pills across the carpet

next to where I accidentally overturned the box of your ashes,

leaving me to contemplate the scattered remains of my life

until the maid comes next Thursday to vacuum.


Last Watch


she sits watch

as night jitters and stammers,

cartwheels into day.


pain punches his clenched, clawed hands

to flutter forward,


though wandering fingers

grasp at white-sheet retreat.


morning glares fluorescent.


his teeth chatter,

choke him into momentary silence,


each episode jacks up momentum.

time rushes forward, runs away.


hope for him crumples

like paper swallows

whirled away in gasped gusts.


intensity increases,

inflames his torso to snake-dance writhe,

hammers blood pressure skyward,

sets hospital bells carnival ringing.


there is no prize.


she strokes his storm-cloud hair,

chronicles decline

through distancing spectacles.


unable to ford the arch of her nose,

they slide down like tears,

as he slips across the final bridge.



JEAN HACKETT lives and writes in San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country.  Her most recent work has appeared in journals Plants and Poetry and Voices de la Luna, anthologies The Stars and Moon in the Evening Sky, Purifying Wind, No Season for Silence, Easing the Edges, and Yellow Flag, as well as Arts Alive San Antonio. Her chapbook Masked/Unmuted was published in March, 2022.

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