keine schadenfreude

dear gretchen,

i loved you

(the way people love their grandmothers or muses)

you taught me to understand language

not merely speak it

 —

sweet you were,

yes, but i doubt

anyone would have accused you

of being angelic

(not even, i think, your husband)

the wrinkled pink-and-white face

in stark contrast with the acerbic tongue

the addictive cigarette clasped in arthritic, warped fingers

the constant, endearing complaining

tales of dumb dogs and crazy cats

vivid joy of life despite the pain

i didn’t say goodbye, did i?

i didn’t get to say goodbye then

i didn’t get to say goodbye

so hear the thoughts that fill my head

dear gretchen,

i loved you

but now you are dead