Flower Lady 2 © Louisa L.

What’s Left

It took two-and-a-half weeks to unpack

Finding a new routine
without you 
needn’t be a race; 
putting away the suitcase
would make our good-bye
more definitive.

I brought many
of your belongings
back to New York, 
my one-bedroom
now a grotto
awaiting the echo
of your hello’s …

Your closet was a basket
of cotton memories
in lavender sachets:
I was a teenager
when you wore
the flowered blouse
with mandarin collar
in gold, peach, black, and gray.

As I buttoned the sleeve, 
my mind activated the scene: 
You’re on the couch
with Dolores from up the street,
your friend with the long nails
painted pearly white, 
bangles on her wrists, chime; 
you both holding a cigarette
and glasses of white wine.

Your vanity was filled
with creams and makeup,
your effervescence a mix
of berry flirtations, 
silver-spun rose, champagne. 
Jars and lipstick cases. 
Your fingerprints, 
will be safe with me


Wanted you to know
I have the wedding rings: 
The diamond sits high
on yellow gold.
I don’t wear them every day, 
but when I do 
I feel your hand over mine, 
a weight descending
from somewhere I can’t place.

Over the years,
you gave me your heart
and I returned the favor; 
the pink crystal necklace 
you wore so often, 
the amber I bought
for each of us
- connection from afar.
The one with the teeny rubies, 
I have that heart now, too.

How could we forget the piece
I bought for you in Dublin, 
the one with Celtic circles
and four-leaf clovers:

I wore it to the funeral
with another necklace
appearing that morning 
on my dresser,
a blue amulet of Mary.
You must have put it there,
 — I don’t remember.

On that cold day at the cemetery, 
the maternal metal kept me warm
and the clovers wished you well, 
as I watched men
with squeaky pulleys
lower your casket
into the ground.


Hardly an occasion
went unrecorded
by your hands . . .

The photo of me standing
as a toddler in a light blue dress, 
holding the telephone,
is next to one of you and Dad,
among sympathy cards.

In another I am six, 
on a chair in the living room, 
my posture correct,
my hands folded on my lap,
I don’t remember the occasion; 
given the green polka dots,
you had dressed me for spring.


As I got older
people noted our resemblance:
Just days before you left,
you told me
I was beautiful
after coming downstairs, 
fresh after a shower, 
with red lipstick on.

“What’s Left” is a poem in Sally O’Dowd’s series 
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Other Tales of Love and Loss. 
Louisa L’s artwork also appears in “
Dancing to Fleetwood Mac on Vinyl.” 
You can view other examples of Louisa’s exceptional work
http://louisal.com and Instagram @louisl1 .