Our son tells me they’re house noises,
the thumps we’ve come to hear
when the sky pulls down its shades
and colder air seeps into the joists.
Alone now, I jump reflexively, afraid
you’ve fallen again, adrenalin shooting
up my spine like an electric current.
The time I found you lying in a heap
I had to drag you to the bed, unable
to hoist your emaciated frame—the time
you stumbled and fell against a windowsill
face first, slicing the bridge of your nose.
The noises still beset me. I half expect
to hear you moving around upstairs,
or calling out for me, as if you’d beaten
death back—your will to live that strong.
Sometimes I pretend you have, yielding
to a delusion that you continue to inhabit
these rooms, or as your proxy taking care
to turn down the thermostat at night, block
drafts from coming in beneath the doors.
You would want me to. Too long have
we pulled together, paired oxen laboring
under the same yoke, not to persist.