When I’m Gone

My copy of Kristin has lots of notes about her sister Ramborg, and I’ve written more than a few
poems about her. But nothing seemed to capture this woman who is, perhaps, the only female in the story who I’d want to be my actual friend.

While puzzling over how to write about Ramborg, I noticed this sentence she says, about Simon: “He never missed me while I was gone.” Wait, what song does that sound like? The YouTube gods sent me a sign: Anna Kendrick singing “Cups/When I’m Gone” from Pitch Perfect. Now I knew what to write.

I don’t know that Kristin misses Ramborg after she’s gone. After informing Kristin she is to be
remarried, Ramborg disappears from the narrative. I can only hope she lives happily ever after
with her new husband, after her “wretched” life with Simon.

I don’t think Ramborg will miss Kristin either. But I picture her thinking that she will be missed,
singing as she waltzes out the door, away from her home valley, forever.

This poem is for Ramborg, who deserved to be missed. (Cue the cups.)

When I’m Gone
By Megan Willome

I got the husband that I wanted.
I was a girl getting a woman’s tooth.
Simon poked my gums with a splinter—
he poked. I bled.
I missed him when he was gone.

I got the husband that I wanted.
He lost my sister, left me with her dog.
I bided my time, sat on his lap until he said yes.
(My father loved Simon like a son.)
Simon missed him when he was gone.

I got the husband that I wanted.
I was Fair Isolde; he preferred Kristin, Dark Isolde.
I was a young Abishag; he, an aging David,
who for twenty years preferred Fru Bathsheba.
He never missed me when he was gone.

I got the husband that I wanted.
He was with Kristin when our son was born.
He loved her sons more than his own children.
He broke my dish and hid it like a guilty little boy.
I didn’t miss him when I was gone, but I did miss Kristin.

So I sent the husband—the man I always wanted—
to her three times! Asked her to Come see me!
Come for Christmas! Come when my child is born!
No, she said. No. No.
Why didn’t she miss me when I was gone?

The husband that I so wanted
was with Kristin when he died.
In his feverish daze he asked her to mother his
illegitimate daughter. My stepdaughter.
He didn’t miss me even when he was almost gone.

Simon, the husband I wanted and got,
treated me like a fine horse, like a good dog.
So I am marrying someone else,
someone who’s been thinking of me for years.
Someone who’ll miss me when I’m gone.

Megan Willome is a writer, editor, and author of The Joy of Poetry and Rainbow Crow, a children’s poetry book. Her day is incomplete without poetry, tea, and a walk in the dark. More writing links at her website and at Poetry for Life.

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