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Ja’net Daniello decorative flourish Leaving

In dull lamplight, she argues

with her dead husband. About

another woman? An overdue

telephone bill on the kitchen counter?

My grandmother can’t remember.

She only recalls his Piels jacket,

its navy threads worn grey at the elbows

and caked with splashed beer

from the brewery’s assembly belt.

White strands of hair cluster at his temples,

by his ears. As he stands in the living room,

no bags in hand, my grandmother wonders

what she’ll do with his things:

the coin collection, a set of green glasses

he bought at the gas station, the plaid

flannel shirts that clutter the closet. Wind

beats against the porch’s insulated windows;

their plastic coverings balloon. My grandfather

opens the front door and then: a rush

of winter, a night without stars.

He wants her to chase him—down

the brick stoop, across the street,

into the schoolyard. He wants her

to follow, through a hole

in the chain link fence, past the chorus

of children’s voices, beyond echoes

of handballs against concrete walls.

But she is a stubborn woman.

In her nightgown and slippers,

she’s not going anywhere. There’s a dog

to feed, a pot boiling on the stove.

My grandfather knows this. Why else

would he return dream after dream

just to say he’s leaving?

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Ja’net Daniello was born and raised in New York. Her poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, Rainbow Curve, and Red Rock Review, among others. When she is not writing, Ja’net is teaching college writing or grading papers. She currently lives in Long Beach, California.