The day before his appointment they went
to the orchard. They always went in June,
and driving up they listened to Patsy Cline
because they always listened to Patsy Cline.
He stayed in the trees until she said Come down
and on the last rung this new thing – her hand
pressed against his back, as if he were a child
who needed catching. He hated her. And
she lifted the basket of cherries to show him
their pale skins, hemorrhaged with sweetness.
Before he would leave he'd empty his pockets
onto the dresser and she'd seen it, that last night,
every coin landing face down. Don't go, she'd said.
And he'd laughed like he always did at her signs:
crows on the lawns, a hang-up call, salt on the floor.
He'd left before dawn, wanting her to sleep in.
She should have known as soon as she broke eggs
for an omelet and the pink embryos cam sliding out;
she should have cleared out her freezer, knowing
the casseroles would come. With all her signs,
why did she put on the cheap bra that morning?
She remembers the chaplain at her door,
holding his hat like an apology. How he'd
placed his hands on her shoulders and she'd said
God. Under his hands, her flesh welling past
nylon straps: that dumb beast in harness, that hope.