In my backyard, there is a shed I use for an art studio.
Sometimes, with a desire to get clean, she stays there.
And then she’s gone. As I reclaim my space,
I write to her in my journal.

My dear,

I see what you have left me. The beauty and the pain draping and dripping, stuffed in corners, messages of your love and despair, so conscientiously placed, an installation,
an altar.

A sunflower card folded and tucked between slices of bamboo.

An old tobacco stick carefully wrapped with silk, holding an art sign declaring my aspirations–secured with ties you must have found tucked away in the plastic box designated for art shows which I never do anymore. Now the silk wrapped stick and sign become part of my studio installation.

The old walking stick from your brother, now gone’s, apartment where it leaned against the wall in the corner with a large feather, and silk wrapped around. I retrieved it when he died, and you have installed it, a relic, a monument. I say his name. I tell him it’s up to him now to hover in your haze, protecting you from all ill-ways.

This love letter you have left me has been well received. I am reading it carefully. At first there was only pain, the way you lit that forbidden cigarette before you walked away the last afternoon you were seeking my gift of salvation, which I could not give, drained I am, I was, with nothing left, everything from the past gone, all the cliches realized.

Now, layer by layer, as I peel away and reinstall myself, I find your notes throughout— a Monet painting on a card, mommy and her daughter walking in a field of poppies you wrote.