She was too young to understand, My Last Duchess…married in 1558 and dead at 17 three years later. The painting still hangs with the curtain drawn, I imagine, with that blush he mistook. She was just a girl. She never had illusions so grand.
She liked dresses with buttons and flowers, and waited for the sunshine of the spring because the winter gave her a rash. Mittens and scarves and a thick red fleecy jacket he hung in the closet with her things before she arrived in the bedroom with pictures hung from floor to ceiling behind the bed on the grey bricks.
She imagined the clothes were still hung on the wooden hangers between his own…but he had packed and unpacked and pressed them in and out of the big black vinyl duffle so many times he didn’t remember which where they were when she finally returned.
As he waited he hung the colors dark to light and wondered how many shades of green she knew. How many pale blues and how many days had turned to years. He held her scent close with warm breath on her letters and Nina Simone and Stan Getz echoing from the long windows and all the things more precious than the empty spaces.
She didn’t know…not that part.
He loved her like his breath.