Photo © Alastair Forbes
During the war, we who were left behind were united. One group, together, hoping. The village worried about spouses, fathers, daughters, neighbors. I worried about you. I prayed morning and night. Talked to our empty home as if you were there. Cried.
How could one man’s absence carve a hole so deep?
When the soldiers began returning, in twos and twenties and ones, we split into factions. The reunited, their relief too bright to bear. The mourners, their grief contagious. And those, like me, still waiting.
Then, amazing news: you survived. You’d stayed behind in the city. You would follow shortly. My smile filled to bursting, my blood pulsing fervently.
Weeks passed. Months. The others settled into one group or the other. I remained stuck.
Your fellow soldiers tried to comfort me, talking man-to-man, and the other way too. But mere muscle could not dislodge my love for you.
Nature gave my pain a deadline. You would cross the mountain before winter, or not at all.
Today, ice rimed our farm’s bare branches, chiming out its verdict.
Snowflakes swirling over my boots, I cut my marriage beard, watching the lost hairs dance away. I had no tears left to freeze.