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The Wife

She was nothing. I was she. Even
though she understood, the pouring
of silvery light into the kitchen
each brisk newlywed morning,

the crackling of loaves being lifted
from the stone, the blackness of tea
made days unfold as if divinely scripted,
as if all were a discipline, universally

obeyed. The lack of plans, the hunger
of the ocean, the slight uncertainty
about necessities created neither
fear nor worry; all who were officially

we would find their way. A man
would protect his home. The community
had ratified it; there were documents.
In many directions lay the imagery

of peace: the neighbors’ quince trees,
orderly gardens, dogs who never
gave chase. There was ambiguity
of duty, money was tight, failures

went unassigned, but many had lived
with worse. Each day yielded a little
more peace. The rain let up, or fuzzy mist
shrouded the hills, which were beautiful.

Like the tide, like the sun going pink
and waning while she boned the bird
or turned the carrots, the radio her link
to agents of consequence, it unfurled,

her life, theirs. What was meant
to happen did, and just as in
any accident, they’d later count
the hundred ways it might have been

better, less violent, or more profound.

This poem appeared in the June 28, 2012 issue of the magazine.