He cracked two eggs on the edge of the pan,
with the butter already bubbling underneath.
He covered the rest of the pan with bacon,
the grease made it slide from side to side
In practiced motions he finds time to think,
his mind retracts, like a turtle sucked in
to its shell. His wrinkled hand reaches
for a spatula, and he gently traces
the edge of the egg, becoming white
nearly glowing to life in the pan. The difference
between fate and coincidence, he thinks,
is only a word. That this egg should crack
instead of hatch. That his wife should die
in childbirth, and his daughter should die
as a child. The final act of a drunk behind
the wheel. The two pictures float into his mind
on the invisible smells of breakfast.
He looks back at the kitchen table, forgetting
for a moment, that nobody sits there.
His empty house, his quiet life, is pregnant
with the past. He turns off the gas, and fills
his nostrils with the scent as he stares out
into the dawn. He has escaped death
for another day. He wonders if it is fate
that he should be the last guardian of so many
moments shared. Before breakfast his mind had covered
the remnants of his family, he paced around
the house caressing the furniture. He unpacked
the winter clothes of his wife and daughter,
hung them in their closets, and muttered
about the cold. Now he eats his breakfast,
staring out the window, as the sun breaks
the ice from the yellow grass. He took his
wife to the ballet once, he sees the children
walking to school, he watches them walk
on their toes, across the stage, a small girl
jumps, her legs spread into the waiting arms
of a handsome boy, the performance goes
on for some minutes, before the dancers
are swallowed by the closing door
of a school bus. He raises his arms,
to applaud and makes a comment
to his wife. When he turns from the window
the room is empty, he shakes his head.
Hoping the long stretch of days behind
had rolled out away from the question,
toward something more solid. He sees
his life as a slow march along a bright
carpet wrapping itself around
the circumference of the Earth, between
a tunnel of darkness and a tunnel of light.
He is bound to those days between deaths
longing to hold onto the days before death.
He lives now only, as a caretaker of memory.