In Another Life
BY RUTH FOLEY
You have been alive for the past
thirty years. You prefer the ocean
to the mountains. You have let your hair
grow long again, and tie it back when
the babies come to visit. You had more
children, and they had children. In
the winter, they come to your house to sled
on the hill that leads out of your woods.
You go with them, cradling the youngest
against your chest. When the roads ice
over, you do not drive. You are a social worker
or a psychologist. You prefer too much
rain to too little. You have thought
about letting yourself go gray. The chemicals,
you say. They’re going to kill us all
if we’re not careful. You have a cat.
You have plants. When the roads ice over,
you do not drive. You have friends come
for dinner on Thursday nights, and in the summer
you string fairy lights across your back deck.
You wear ankle-length skirts and keep
your glasses on a beaded chain around
your neck. You have long since given up
your Firebird for a Subaru or a Volvo.
You have a second husband, one better than
you think you deserve. He splits wood
in the autumn. He is broad and tall and smiles
when you call him a lumberjack. He likes
to cook. You gave up smoking. You play
music too loud and drink white wine out of
the biggest glass you can find and you can’t
remember the last time you shattered a plate
against the floor because you’ve lived
long enough to learn a few things. And—this is
the important part, so listen well, sister—
when the roads ice over, you do not drive.