When Dad is Away

When you are away
at first the house and all its decisions
tip to my side of the bed.
And I like it.
I pick the wine with the pretty label.
The kids and I sing off-key to Mary Poppins on repeat.
I eat kale chips, popcorn and chocolate
and call it dinner.

But by day three of your absence
we are getting edgy.
I’m talking to myself in the mirror.
The kids are listless.
We are lonely cats,
rubbing our faces into furniture,
wishing for that strong hand to scoop us up.

On day four I wake in the night
and am startled by an unfamiliar bulk
on your side of the bed.
Then I remember the laundry I had piled there.

I lay back down again.
It’s no good anymore,
this me without you.
I am ruined by our ten year union.

Without you,
I am rowing this skiff with one oar
from my side of the bed.
The inevitable result of which
lays hold of my ego,
so that I say audibly to your empty pillow in the dark,
“I need you to come home.”