Sweet Spot
By Doris Ferleger

How you can tell I’m a widow is because my pajama

bottoms don't match my tops, because I actually

wear pajama bottoms, because I break open my nightly

magnesium capsules to avoid death by choking,

as there is now no one around to give me

the Heimlich if the capsule gets caught

instead of going all the way

down, that married men consider it safe

to tell their wives they are taking me

for a walk, that married men take me

for walks, in the woods, where they show

no signs of desire for circuitous routes.


How you can tell I’m a widow is because I say I am sixty

and no one answers age is only a number, because

I say I am old and no one responds you’re only

as old as you feel, because I am reading three books

at one time: Didion’s Blue Nights, Oates’ Widow’s Story,

Broyard’s Standby, because I know the right answer

on the psychology exam: Misery loves miserable

company more than any other kind.


How you can tell I’m a widow is because

when my divorced, depressive, rejected-for-another,

platonic, friend says his only goal in life is to love

himself, I focus on the fact that he is wearing

a handsome silver button-down shirt with such

a nice sheen instead of his usual pullover polos

which gets me to ponder if he has read

my mind, since, though I have not revealed this,

I love button-downs on men (my late husband wore

a pink dressy one to bed) and because I have been imagining

that if my platonic friend, who wishes to be more

than that, changed over to button-downs

it would make me want to sink

my teeth into his left shoulder, offer him

the sweet spot in mine.


How you can tell I’m a widow one year and three months

is because I try to force chemistry even as I try not to.

I look at this eager-to-please, eager-to-feel-loved

man and say, I like your shirt but the third button

is unbuttoned. He holds them toward me,

the button and button hole, with what is, for him,

an unusually playful smile and come hither look

in his eye. To be fair, I must admit that what came

out of my mouth at first was, I want

to button that for you. How you can tell I’m still a widow

is that my friend knew to slide his own button inside

its own buttonhole (a perfect fit) and take me

for a walk in the moonlight without taking

my hand or starting to sing.