She saved for last the trunk he brought from Okinawa.
She had been putting off picking through
His most personal stuff.
Among his discharge papers,
A stack of letters from her tied with twine,
And a photo of their son in a soap box race car,
She found a round candy tin;
“Zombies, A Delicious Coconut Confection
Flavored with Fine Imported Rum.”
The faded lid showed a lagoon,
Huts with straw roofs,
A black man with a blue shirt sitting on the root of a palm,
A black woman standing with a basket on her head
As in a cheesy Gauguin.
Rusted from the moisture of basements,
She managed to pry it open and found no sweets,
But a hand-written note folded to fit;
“July 15, 1963.
I saw this and thought of you.
The island paradise we talked about?
His life was a secret,
She knows now,
Conducted on trips to corporate headquarters
And deadlines at the plant.
Her life was wishful thinking,
Like the scent of a wildflower
Caught in the damp woods
In a January thaw
That you can never find
Because it isn’t there.
Scott Thomas‘ background includes a B.A. in Creative Writing/Literature from Bard College, a M.S. in Library Science from Columbia University, and a M.A. in English from the University of Scranton. He has work published or forthcoming in Mankato Poetry Review, The Kentucky Poetry Review, Sulphur River Literary Review, Webster Review, Poetry East, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Poem, Philadelphia Stories, Poetry Bay, Floyd County Moonshine, Talking River, Willard & Maple, and Pointed Circle. (facebook.com/scott.thomas.1675275)