SELF- PORTRAIT

Once upon a time, I was a beautiful woman, cast in the mold mortals see. No wrinkles etched my brow. No lines played havoc with my chin. No gray hairs twisted through my locks.

It's okay though. "You are so beautiful." My late husband repeated. I heard it in his last breath. In that moment, perhaps he remembers me in the red dress and long braids I wore the night we met at a mutual friend's birthday party. The mountains and valleys of his voice still appear, especially as I plan my end of life decisions. Even on days when I do not intend to think of him, I feel his strong arms reach to hold me, his shoulders bending for me to lean against, the sadness in his grey-green eyes calling me. I want to snuggle in his body-heat. 

Bill Withers sings it best. "We all have our own conclusions." 

My husband abides in heaven now. He's dancing, twirling, running through gardens, falling down in fuchsia grass, like a little kid. Laughing. Waiting for me, whenever I arrive. Some days, he plays the tenor saxophone or beats a dejembe drum and I play the piano. 

Jeannette Drake is a retired psychotherapist who has published poetry, short-fiction, non-fiction and letters to the editor in a variety of journals and magazines. Her most recent poems are "Sweet Story," published in Reflections by Telling Our Stories Press and "Morning Prayer," published in Panolpyzine.com (August 2005).