I tried to help you with chores;
but I bought the wrong brand,
the wrong size, the wrong color,
the wrong fabric—so many times.
I remembered to get the red grapes,
but they were not seedless. I brought
back some ice, but you wanted cream.
I gave you a pencil, but you had no pad.
I hauled some wood, but it was not clean.
I brought a hand-woven shawl from France.
You kept it for twenty-three years,
then returned it to me, unworn. I draped
it over my head and shoulders, arms crossing
my heart. I have worn it now hundreds of times.
I gave you a verb and a noun, but you had to split
my infinitives. I gave you a vacation, but it rained
every day. I gave you a one-serving casserole
dish, but you had no room on your counter.
I gave you a mirror to reflect the light,
but you kept your chair in the dark.
I planned a party for your birthday
every year, but the plates were too
cold, the food was too hot,
the children were too loud,
the adults—too many, and late.
The open door called in a draft,
leaving the room too chilly.
If only you had held onto
that shawl from France—
But it was green
and white wool,
and you were,