Make sure everything is just so

There is no time

in her life for dreams

and the first sparrow of the day

never sings at her window.


She rises swiftly

with her alarm clock’s

mechanical pin-

its steel springs shatter

droplets of morning dew

like a rock thrown through glass.


Dresses flawlessly

in the same

slim fitted tweed suit

set to a spine

as straight as bamboo.


Fixes her face,

not a trace of a smile.

Powders an expression

as impassive as a china doll.


Makes an empty bed

with medical precision.

Where eyes watched

the ravages of stage 4

devour her husband.

Where arms held him

until he was only breath.

Where hands last stroked

her own dying morning light.


Routine ticks over

like the antique clock

she winds weekly

on her mantelpiece.

She stares in its mirror

and makes sure

that her hair is just so.