Sestina for an Ending

Each slab of paving holds a film of dirt.
A humid sky: the air is not yet cold.
Her boots press footprints into the grass cover;
She pauses, wipes her brow, and drinks some water,
glances up - thick clouds, one break of light -
and sighs an accusation with no answer.

Inside, a phone is ringing without answer;
outside, she rakes the earth to break the dirt.
This soil is nutrient poor, its color, light;
this fruitless ritual hers. To keep out cold
she tends her plants. They have long needed water,
and as it comes, she darts to the garage for cover.

Photograph by Anna Evans Copyright 2005

After the rain, she gets a light coat to cover
her tired body. She mutters with no answer,
retreats indoors eventually for more water.
She sees her footprints, written on the floor in dirt,
thinks of her husband: how their union went cold.
She drops to the sofa, turns out the only light.

Miles away, he drives in brighter light.
He took the day off; a friend agreed to cover.
He does not like to be controlled, a cold
fury builds; he says, "She was never the answer.
She wants me six feet under covered in dirt."
He drives until he can see the ocean's water.

He walks over sand forever, reaches the water,
pale skin already burning in the strong light.
This is the last time she'll treat him like dirt,
he thinks. He'll vanish: no trace to recover.
If his phone rings, he'll ignore its shriek, not answer.
He enters greenish water, getting cold.

He cannot bear her silence and the cold.
After a brief swim he stumbles out of the water.
But is the search for another really the answer?
He swaps his towel for a cigarette, looks for a light.
Maybe she has mountains more to discover,
more depths to mine. He speeds off in a cloud of dirt.

He calls and calls: no answer. She'll quit him cold.
Soon after, another tracks in dirt, rainwater
and lets in light, his arms, the sweetest cover.

Kendall A. Bell is a native of Bergen County, NJ (North Jersey) who transplanted to Burlington County (South Jersey) in early 2001. His work has appeared in Rowan College's Venue magazine, Splat! Fanzine, Edison Literary Review, Inferno and the online journals Prose Toad, Baby Clam Press and Sunken Lines. He is a co-founding member of the Quick And Dirty Poets, who released a compilation of poems called Fast And Filthy in 2003 and Quick Meals And Dirty Dishes in 2004. A long time curmudgeon, he is now working on codger status. He thinks this could be the year his Indianapolis Colts raise the Lombardi Trophy in triumph.

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