When winter set in, they came
to see us with their baby,
a beautiful child about a year old
who was learning to walk
and stepped proudly
across our living room,
waved her fists and hands
and shook her straw colored hair.
They were in their late thirties, the woman
a long lost friend of our daughter,
the baby their first. They spoke
anxiously of buying a house,
in a neighborhood of better houses.
He had been a carpenter
in one of his previous lives, he said,
after deep sea diving, before tech support,
before the bush-league investing
he did now, but he still knew people
who’d help them with the fix-up
at a good price, practically nothing.
They stayed up late
baking a cake, tasting wine, toasting
the future, while we
amused the baby, but by the time
the cake was done, the baby
was crying. I had early
work, and my wife had chemo.
My wife would tell me later
that it had to be a dream, but I swear
I could hear them all night
scheming, laughing through the thin
walls, scoping out our kitchen,
our small guest room, the living room
already scattered with toys,
planning what they were going to do
with the place
as though our years here,
our decades, meant nothing.
Randolph Thomas is the author of the poetry collection The Deepest Rooms. His poems have recently appeared in New Letters, Poetry South, Pleiades, Ponder Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and many publications. He is also the author of a short story collection, Dispensations, published in 2014. He teaches at Louisiana State University.