Try A Little Tenderness is written in the mud-streaked window of his truck.
On his way to the truck, he sees it. Stops in his tracks. Haunted, again.
He’d been so determined that this, finally, was the day to return all the overdue library books,
the pile of cookbooks checked out after his wife died.
Instead, this other return,
On his way to the truck, he remembers another October when
the world turned gold, illuminated.
How she looked walking towards him—
gold, all gold,
her dog running ahead to greet him, this stranger who the decades
turned to husband father widower
On his way to the truck, her dog tries to follow because no one wants to be left behind.
So he sets down the books
boosts the old dog up, into the truck
one is limping, showing some wear
and one of them is beginning to rust
He tries to take the advice scrawled
across the window by her ghost
He’s sure it’s her ghost
Try a little tenderness, she hums
so he helps the dog into the truck
and tells himself that rust
is just another shade of gold.