Emily H. Axelrod lives and works in Cambridge, MA. Her first book of poems, Passerby, was published by Antrim House in 2015. She is the winner of the 2019 Cambridge Poetry Contest, and has been published in Goodreads, and the Muddy River Review. Ms. Axelrod’s poems are informed by her California childhood, family life, and summers on a small island in Maine.
When My Husband Goes Away
When my husband goes away
I sleep across the bed
with books strewn about me.
I make strong coffee in the morning
and eat an artichoke for dinner.
At night I reach for his pillow
and feel its cool weave on my cheek,
as I float in solitude
through days laced with quiet.
The temple is full of strangers
or, more accurately
the room is full of people
who know each other,
and I am a stranger.
Eulogies are vivid;
I begin to think I know him,
but it isn’t true.
I only know the sadness
in the eyes of his sons,
and that medicines bought time,
and more time, until time ran out.
I sit in the warmth of the congregation,
a wanderer in the world of the devout
wondering at the meaning
of so terrible a loss.
Awash in doubt,
I recite the Mourner’s Kaddish.