While You Were Away – A Confession


I drove home from the airport
The highway was quiet and I left
the radio off. I considered the last
17 years of us, the turning of the tides, the ins
and outs of two tangled lives. I thought
about how we’ve become
a sort of background noise for one another
like the hum of tires on long, straight
roads. Sometimes
you have to turn down the noise to hear
what is constant,
what is true.

I must admit that when you are gone
we eat more pizza than usual, and more
cereal. The Nutella is nearly gone, and the ice cream
didn’t last the first night.
The kids all sleep on our bedroom floor
so that when Leo wakes up,
crying for you,
I have to walk to him gingerly, stepping
through the tangled trickery of blanket-
covered legs and arms, not always succeeding,
missteps then yelps or groans.

I lift Leo from his bed and rock him on that
tiny chair, smell his hair, and think of you
six or eight states away. I know your geography
better than my own country. I feel his weight and think,
We made this human being together, and
How can we possibly be responsible
for this kind of beauty? and
When will he finally sleep through the night?
These children are, all of them,
the two of us, wrapped in skin
and bone, like a gift we gave each other
not caring how much we could keep
for ourselves.


3 Replies to “While You Were Away – A Confession”

  1. Oh Shawn, I love all of this but especially the last few lines. My sons are all grown the youngest is 39 the oldest 43. And I look at them and think they are beautiful and their children are beautiful and I am amazed. I love your words here and I Will tell them a blogger named Sean Smucker from Pennsylvania where we used to live (actually in Wrightsville across the river for four years) )gave them to me.

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