The Spinster – Gladys Barnes

Coffee mugs on a wooden rack
each from a place
someone else visited.
A piano
she’d never learned to play
justifying, “it was mother’s”
mismatched China –
five patterns in all.
Gladys looks at her puffy hand;
“I wish it still fit.”
while she strokes her cat
Her eighth cat in a row
“My truest love, Bernie,
he went off to war
he proposed before he left.
Daddy wanted us to wait
til Bernie got back.”
But he never got back.
The yellow envelope arrived
at 4:56 on a Wednesday
afternoon made it look orange in
falling light.
she still hates
she never leaves the house
without a hat – black.
answers the door in a housecoat
denture-free –
ever after
known as the witch
to neighbor kids.
She sits alone
and strokes her cat,
each cat,
every cat,
in succession,
named Bernie.

Trish (Stew21)