"Underneath This Note is a Blanket"

Ana C.N. Silva '91
November 5, 2020
Ana Silva

I remember the little children with dirty tote bags begging for overripe fruit. They always asked for that, or stale bread. I didn’t know if our cans would last, if our space heater would stop glowing. I could not risk disease. We had an extra room, though, and I knew my old self would have held one tight to my chest, sour smell and greasy hair, the fear of lice and fleas no matter at all. My old self, if she did exist, would have been unable to let the child go, to hear her make quiet knocks on other unreceptive doors. 

Were you one of those children? I know you have been to starvation and back; I can see it in your eyes. Did you have a red wool cardigan with a sprinkle of moth holes at the bottom? It seemed so old-fashioned, from a time when people sat around warm hearths, decorated with personal knicknacks, blazing lights on in all the rooms, a roast in their ovens while they knitted loved ones sweaters they didn’t really need. 

We live in a time where it’s hard to be a good person. That’s not an excuse. I’m sorry for what I did. I ignored the knocks, or briskly handed out small bags of old food with a quickly shut door. 

What we shared last night — the bowl of hot ramen, the almost-tasty apple, your half bag of M&Ms, our conversation about poetry — when was the last time I’d talked of that? —and especially your warmth in the night, the good night hug, the nearness you gave me on the shared bed — was the first time I’ve relaxed since my children left. 

The blanket is from me. It’s a good one.

Editor’s Note: This poem appears in Silva’s latest poetry collection, While Mercury Fish, published by Finishing Line Press in 2020 and in the fall 2020 edition of The Exeter Bulletin.