When the First Ship Left

Others took their places
on widow’s watches.

Instead, I made breakfast,
the habit of bacon and eggs. I won’t

look up to seek that dim red light you
showed me, that evening: our younger selves

full of cider and what passed for affection.
The dog, always yours more than mine,

waits at the door. Twenty years on, when you’ve returned,
our son will speak another language: Mars

as another word for absence. I won’t teach him that
patience is any virtue. I’ll accept

this unraveling, as I promised: my own
waiting a journey as long and as cold

as any planet’s passage.

—T.D. Walker