Wanda Praisner

After Twelve Years

It surprises, the low lament
slowly-rising inside me as I run
my usual mile around Ski Hill.

Hand held to mouth to dam the flow,
I manage a Hi to a young man
and his basset passing on the other side.

Once I knew everyone on the street—
when my son walked his black lab pup
here—the hill by the Heck’s where

he rode his ten-speed bike, the slope
behind Schweizer’s he skied—families
he knew mostly gone. I’ve learned

to keep still. To share, even with his dad,
causes unease, and why summon grief
to a day in no need of it. To remember

his voice and laughter brings despair,
his smile, darkness, the flash of his
green eyes in anger or delight,

bituminous night. I can no longer read
his stories, look at his drawings
or display his photos. Nothing to do

but go on—a new dog bought
just days after he died—twelve years
now, she old and slowed.

I push and poke her bedding
back into its newly-laundered cover.
The fit, never the same.

About the author
Wanda S. Praisner, a resident poet for the state, has received 19 Pushcart Prize nominations, First Prize in Poetry at the College of NJ Writers’ Conference, and the 2017 NJ Poets Prize. She’s appeared in Atlanta Review, Lullwater Review, and Prairie Schooner. Her 6th book is To Illuminate the Way (2018).

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