Wife warms milk, fills three small mugs,
husband drips opioid drops, stirs.
Each avoids other’s glances.
Trio of children, undressed
and cross-legged on their mattress,
drink their bedtime milk,
pledge their bedtime allegiance,
shut their bedtime eyes;
quicker, deeper than usual.
Husband and wife swap assenting glances.
She rolls back rugs,
he lifts floorboards,
they haul out the
chest, she hands him
the key, he turns
the lock, they lift
the lid, slowly, slowly, savouring the moment, as
familiar vivid treasures lying dormant within, are
awakened by the dulling light of dusk.
They each take their parcel as far from the other as the tiny room allows.
Each watches the other shed their formless overalls, trading smiles of comradeship.
They turn to stand back to back as they change.
Victor buttons his faded-white still-starched dress shirt, pulls on his hand-stitched evening suit.
Anna steps into a gown of brocade as deeply blue, shimmering, as remembered summer lakes.
They turn to face each other;
recognition settles in, as
they take each other’s hands.
And they dance.
Slowing the silent waltz to a close,
Victor smiles. ‘Happy Anniversary, darling.’
Anna whispers, ‘will these times ever return?’
They each undress the other,
wrap their treasure in
tissue, stow away the chest.
Wife fetches blankets from bench,
husband takes mattress from wall.
They lie down, face to face, by
three deep-sleeping children, and
each holds the other’s gaze.