I fall in love with husbands
when mine’s out of town–
all of them, the idea of them,
the wonderful function of husbands,
the dearness of my own
slipping into the plural,
the sea of them,
all these married men
seem to be rightly mine,
just not yet belonging,
on their trips still,
like my usual one–
It’s true a quantity of wives and children
vanishes in these fantasies,
and I regret that, though it’s understood
to be another era,
a decent period passes quickly,
and now the kindness and fun
clogging their middle-aged hearts
is for the good of me–
and the lovely lives I saunter in,
the wives also made them,
that’s the luck, too,
in loving their-or should I say our–husbands.
And when he comes back to me,
my present husband–no tragic loss yet for him,
no kids at large–he may notice I appear
In the forest we see many pipe cleaners
propped on moss as green as Astroturf,
daisies like the ones on rubber bathing caps,
Gillette shaving foam, surely, on plant stems.
The air is sprayed sweet, an earthy deodorizer–
we’re already ready for nothing to be real.
We survey the useful scenery. A whole tortoise shell
entices us to touch. We want it, proof
of something, of something we want. Does it smell?
Oh. Instead a rock, some wood that’s tortoise-shaped,
not too heavy to drag home. Worth it.
the having of it, all it has, we’ll have it, though.
At the end of every statement, we’ll nod to loss
like a girl I knew who took for granted nothing
but the unsaid inadequacy of everything.
Nature’s so good for the soul, though. Beautiful, though.
Then like hers, our foreheads will cloud over.
In my shaking hands, you shake, you
teeter the spoonful of soup to your mouth,
you, dogged against that turbulence
coming out of your own arms, graceful
as you weave around the table, sink the eight
(flailingly accurate when I least want you to be)
and end the tournament, you with the genes
I may carry eighty years or so, too, dancing
along the circuitry of my intention, explaining
nothing of that advantage, my hesitating hold.
Just a shake away, you, in your beautiful beard,
in your last house, watch birds light and linger,
and hear the waterfront rush just there, beyond
the property line (and the highway, you sweet fool),
you tell me that we won’t be rattled apart
by any thunder inside or out, and I stay to listen
nearer now, in case you admit you stayed away too long.
–in memoriam, HB (1917-2002)