In winter, she comes to visit.
Following me around the house,
asking questions with your mouth.
She rests your chin on my head.

After I’ve said goodnight, she roots around for you,
digging for lost Christmas ornaments, state fair plush toys,
faded Polaroids of us at Mammoth Cave,
you at Cedar Point.

She ferrets out your old socks,
your work shirts stained with motor oil.
Our daughter needs things
to hold, to take with her when she leaves.

She and I are opposite coasts of the same country.

Rather than dig, I winnow—
the soft clacking of mahjong tiles,
the large golden koi, the half-empty bottle
of ‘Lectric Shave I hide beneath the bathroom sink.
How to keep you from scattering with the chaff?
When will the wind finally take you?

The Camelot, the Dolly Parton, the Alba Semi-Plena
that we planted—their little heads droop
beneath the meager new frost.

I count the coral folds of the Camelot,
the creases on my face from the nose pads of my glasses;
the rain, the darkness, the hollow in our daughter’s throat.

Today, I found you in the sink.
Yesterday, on the pillows.

I find you in the butter dish.
In the cold soil I hold in my hand.

Michelle Peñaloza is the author of two chapbooks: landscape/heartbreak (Two Sylvias Press, 2015) and Last Night I Dreamt of Volcanoes (Organic Weapon Arts, 2015). Her poems and essays have been featured in Waxwing, Poetry Northwest, New England Review, Off Paper, Vinyl, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of fellowships, awards, and scholarships from the University of Oregon, Kundiman, Hugo House, 4Culture, Artist Trust and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, among others. Michelle lives in rural Northern California.