Sleeping Like a Widow

by Sheila Hassell Hughes

She sleeps like a widow, says my mother
who in two years of living alone
has grown fond of the lonely old name
for the way it pins the wings of
her pain so precisely under glass.

She can point to each variation
in shape and shade and coloration and
mark the meaning in the widowed
body of her life, preserved.

She sleeps like a widow, observes
my mother, huddling neatly to her
edge of the bed, mostly empty;
see how she's clung to the ledge
barely moving, covers unrumpled

so careful not to disturb the dead
so bold in her flirtation with the long dark line.

That, she says, is how we widows sleep.