Sixteen Days


Sixteen days with him gone

and it wasn’t so bad, in the end.

I admit, I dreaded single-parenting

even though the kids were in school

forty hours a week.


The weekends were long.


But the children are easier

now that she is five and he

is almost three.  Despite water

poured over the bathroom floor

and the living room floor

and, mysteriously, the bedroom,

the house seems to have

survived.  The tomato plants

are denuded — the boy will pick them

still green, despite every admonition.

And she has endured more than

her normal share of hair-pulling,

toy-throwing, and outright hitting.


Still, we are all still alive,

even the dog.  There were moments

when I wondered.


And the worst of it in the end

wasn’t the parenting at all

but simply missing him.


We were never joined

at the hip; one or the other

of us was often away

for a few days at a time,

or holed up in our offices

even when at home.


It’s a surprise to discover

after twenty years

and two late-born children

that I still ache for him

when too many days slip by.


The children are safely sleeping

but I am counting the minutes

until he walks in the door.


A surprise to discover I miss him so —

and also, after twenty years,

a relief.