Before she left, the now-named Seph did something peculiar. Before, she had always left me with heaps of material to read before her next visit, sort of like a teacher giving you stuff for the final exam. Usually it was something highbrow. Something on the order of, say, Stephen Vincent Benet's Pulitzer-Prize-winning epic "John Brown's Body," a book-long poetic version of the Civil War, to the accompaniment of something like The Battle Hymn of the Republic to...you know...get me in the mood. Or if it was a non-poetic book--though that was rare--it would at least be literary fiction. I remember she really liked Foucault's Pendulum. My muse had informed me that she had an IQ of 140 and the reading material in my house had darned well better match it, otherwise I was wasting her time.
Whewee. That's why it was so surprising that she left me a stack of romance novels. Romance novels? That was a first. It really didn't seem like her style, but maybe Pele enjoyed them. They were singed around the edges as if a volcanic goddess had been at them. Since they were quite warm to the touch, without further ado I tossed them in a corner and forgot about them.
I have to admit I was lonely without Seph even if it was more peaceful. Then things began to get a tad scary. I started waking up in the middle of the nights and it wasn't to write poetry. I woke up because I felt like I was on a wheel of time turning slowly...slowly...coming to a halt. With a shiver, I recognized that this had nothing to do with poetry. It was The Sight. Yes, folks, I believe in Second Sight. Why shouldn't I? My Nana's surname indicated very clearly that we are descended from Druids and all the teachings of the Church aside, we still have it. The rational part of me has always wanted to deny it, but so many inexplicable things have happened that I can't. We're weird. Fey. We KNOW things. And I KNEW something, although I wasn't clear exactly what it was. All I knew was that something was coming and it was bad.
It finally came in the form of a terminal diagnosis for my husband. Leukemia. The doctor didn't mince any words. He could buy Dave some time, but the end was in sight. I deduced that on her way to Hell and back, Seph must have encountered the Fates, busy weaving our mortal timelines on their immortal looms. There was no bargaining with those three old hags. Once they cut your yarn--poof. That was it. She knew I needed her, even if she was plenty steamed at me.
She paid a condolence call in November, three months before my husband died, leaving me what I didn't know was a last sonnet. Not mentioning the books she had left, she gave me a sonnet she called Shadows:
The thickened fur upon my slit-eyed cat
Speaks of winter to the attentive ear,
And I must up and pace the room, to hear
This wild autumn's broadside rip and slash
Wrenching the withered apple from the tree,
Tearing my heart to tatters all the while.
And I see the sadness in your smile,
Knowing your easy words are meant for me.
Tell me once more the beauties of the snow,
Tell me that spring will find me strong and sure,
Tell me what things you will. I only know
That once I loved the slant of autumn sun,
Seeing now only how the shadows come
Sooner and longer than they came before.