Sneaking out to smoke

among the tasseled corn, kissing

boys under the peach tree

that her father, gasping for air,

chopped down to spite her –

she came to love two

and could not choose between them.

If she secretly favored one,

she never said – only that it was

better to reject them both.

She never married.

Last year, knowing more

than she ever let on,

she came home to die.

We all have a ticket, she’d say –

date-stamped, no exchanges.

Lying there in the hospital bed,

she heard a voice – which one’s? –

not heard in fifty years.

Stepping out into the hallway,

oxygen tank in hand,

she called out his name.

In the month more she lasted,

she told no one

what had passed between them.

So like her

to keep it that way.