Husband Fair


for Matthew, darling


How good to lay with my husband

in our stone flat with not enough windows and many

doors. We need another chair. The smaller table wobbles

too much for books and won’t hold both of our plates. But

we eat, he and I, and the fare is good. I do the cooking,

because he doesn’t know how. Never learned. I don’t mind.

The food is mine too. He cooks and we laugh. How good

to tell him “no” when I feel like it, and “yes” and “maybe”

and we laugh more, he and I, so freely though

not carefree—

there are bills, there is the cost of everything, the bill collectors

that threaten. And the roof over our heads, over our small bed,

is not one we own. We own so little, but we get by, we go

from here to there to here, on need and on whim, for desire,

for work. How different from my line, from that woman

not so distant, who never went anywhere beyond a field of bolls,

who lay with another’s husband, my grandfather

not so many fathers ago. He who owned so very much and her,

pinned beneath him, his arms of rope, his body of winter,

who laughed only when she cried, his face a heavy drift

over hers, her face as brown as my own.