Memorial Day Weekend, 2018 – A Poem

Serenity was a long holiday weekend.
Me floating in my pool
You, off riding your bicycle

Quiet, stillness, lassitude
Relaxed in the giant float I bought on Amazon
Peace and tranquility
Summer and heat and happiness

Floating, floating, floating
Staring up at the blue sky
Leaves and squirrels rustling in the trees

Pure bliss

Alone, yet not lonely
Alive and aware of the beauty of the world
Floating, floating, relaxed and soothed
By the water’s gentle lapping
By the sun’s encouraging warmth

The perfect life…

Eyes closed now, taking in the sound of the birds,
The buzz of the insects,
The gentle movement of the leaves,
I hear the back door slam

Back from your ride: Honey, I’m home! What a great ride! What a beautiful day!

You come to the pool and feel the water and shudder at its coldness
And I float over to the edge
To you
And I ask about your ride, and we chat, and you say, I’m going to make dinner; don’t stay in too long, you’re getting burnt

And you give my float a push that propels me across the pool

Eyes closed now
Floating gently around the pool in the current you created
I enjoy listening to the sounds of your activity

The rustle as you unpack the groceries you bought
The water running as you clean the chicken
The door slightly squeaking as you step out on the deck to light the grill
The metallic-sounding slam as you shut the grill lid

The chair legs grinding across the wooden deck
You sitting down at the table with a loud groan as your weary bones settle after the long long bike ride
The chop chop chop as you cut up veggies and chicken
Rustling and movement and busy noises

And I know you are creating our delicious dinner
And I know in an hour or so you will bring out the wine
And I’ll hear you uncork the bottle
And I’ll hear the clink of the glasses

And this is serenity
This is our life
This is the world we created together
Life with you is

Pure bliss

And in a little while, you’ll say, Honey, get out of the pool and join me for a drink. Dinner’s almost ready.

And I’ll say, Okay, I’ll get out in a bit.

But let me float a few minutes more
Let me float in my pool, alone with my thoughts and serenity and the dreamy happiness of this

Perfect day…

In this perfect life…in the perfect house…with the perfect yard…

And the perfect husband

And now I float in the pool and I wait and I wait and I wait
But I will not hear the back door slam

And the silence is deafening
And the serenity is gone
And the sadness is overwhelming

No reason now for me to leave the giant float from Amazon
So I float and I float and I float
And I try to enjoy the perfect day
And I try to find reasons to go on in my perfect life …in my perfect house…with the perfect yard…

Without my perfect husband

And I tell myself the world is still full of life and sounds and serenity
But I daydream of you and memories of summer weekends we shared in the past

And I long to hear the sounds you made
And I strain to hear the back door slam
But all is quiet as I float float float
Alone in my pool

About the author

Katherine Billings Palmer is a technical writer, poet, and essayist from Garden City, Michigan. She’s won several academic writing awards, including first place in the University of Michigan Dearborn Critical Essay Contest for her work about poet John Donne: “‘The Sun Rising’: A Lover’s Boast.”

In 2017, Katherine’s husband, Rick, died of complications from small cell lung cancer. She wrote a series of poems and essays about her struggles to cope with her grief. I Wanted to Grow Old With You is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her latest book, A Widow’s Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry – The First Year was published in January 2019 and is also available on

Katherine is a guest blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation and writes about her grief journey at

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