After I Have Left

           for Domi Shoemaker, who asked

I think about my bedroom after I have left the house, the nest of French linens and gray blanket, light through white curtain, sketch of a chickadee on the wall by the window.

Here is learned wisdom: You should always make your bed if you don't want to be called back, especially on a rainy morning, in the middle of your life.

Aunt Mimi drew the chickadee. It hung on her bedroom wall my whole childhood, and if I'd never left New Jersey forever she might not have given it to me. If I'd stayed there I might have my grandmother's diamond ring instead, and would have gone to lower Manhattan to find trouble, instead of Denver, the voice in my head would have the long old vowels of my first library books.

I just kept heading west.

The voice in my head is my own, only slightly tuned to Aunt Mimi. She can't believe I'd leave the house without making my bed, especially after spending so much money on sheets, can't believe I'd decide not to have children, or come all the way to Oregon, much less stay.

The voice in my head that's my owns says,

Don't be sad.

You don't get another chance

but you still have this one.