Today's poem is by Rebecca Hazelton
Questions about the Wife
I'm having trouble understanding the wife.
The wife seems like she is only there as a foil to your actions.
I want to know how the wife feels when you drag her
and your son down into the basement to start a new religion.
The religion has something to do with cowering
before a force greater than yourself and then being buried alive.
I want to know how the wife does with small, enclosed spaces:
if she is trying to comfort your son by telling him Daddy likes
to play funny games, or if she is already visualizing
herself walking into a women's shelter with your son
on her back and maybe, because this is a fantasy, she is also
carrying a burning torch, like an angry villager, or a goddess.
Does the wife have any sort of revenge after you weed-whack
the coffee table? Does she agree with you that the coffee table
is yours to destroy because you built it? What has she built
in the house that is hers to destroy? What kind of childhood
has the wife had that allows her to understand you?
In her past life or lives, was the wife ever a shepherdess?
Does she see you as a sort of Pan, goatish, pricked
by ticks, but very well-endowed? When the wife transforms
into a tree, can she still think or is she just sort of a green haze
inside, an idea of growing? Later, I would like to see the wife
peel off that bark, leaving only enough for modesty's sake,
although as this is your poem, we can take a bit more off.
I would like to see her uproot herself. When the wife
picks up the house and shakes it, how many people fall out?
Why does the wife hold on to her old love letters, which aren't from you?
The wife has something about her that the Germans
would call unheimlich. I sometimes catch a glimpse of the wife
out of the corner of my eye but whenever she tries for eye contact, I look away.
I cannot look directly at the wife. The wife is like a conflagration
of everything I hold dear. I wonder sometimes if the wife is faking.
There is a certain note she holds a bit too long
so that the orgasm is more operatic than genuine. For instance,
she always says, "Oh my God," when really she should stutter.
When the wife wakes up in the morning
and you have already made breakfast, does your kindness feel oppressive?
Does she want to take a weed whacker through the house?
Has she ever in a fit of anger destroyed your pornography?
When you found a picture of the wife on-line with a foreign hand's print
smacked red on her ass, how quickly did your shock turn to arousal?
Are you aware that the wife has been breaking down in public places,
and sometimes cannot move for thirty minutes? Sometimes
her arm goes entirely numb from the shoulder down. I think the wife
might be in need of some fine-tuning, some elbow grease,
some wrenching apart and then reassembling.
It's hard to tell if the wife will be the same wife after this.
Copyright © 2011 Rebecca Hazelton All rights reserved
from the Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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