Friday, December 05, 2008

The Sinking Raft

The Sinking Raft

Slowly, my husband unloves me.  He stops
putting the clean laundry in the drawers, then stops
fluffing and folding it.  Brings it up and dumps it
in a tangle.  Stops greasing my feet, rubbing my back,
making love to me.  "I will do everything,"
he said, when he was courting.  I dream of Florence,
wife of John, my botany professor.  More than forty
years ago, John tried to get me into bed.  I refused,
despite his gifts and constant attention, but Katra caved
and fell that long dark fall where you know you'll die
when you hit bottom, and she wasn't dreaming.
Katra didn't die, she became a lesbian, after John.
Who could blame her?  And Florence had an unfaithful

husband.  I hated John for that.  "I'll do everything,"
my husband said.  "You can't," I countered. 
He tried, but couldn't.  Of course
he couldn't. No one could.  I can't
do anything.  I rarely sleep, stare, zombie-like
at the increasing chaos I can't control
with my exhausted brain and body. 
But each time he stops, I see him turning away,
turning his face to the wall, inching toward the farthest
edge of the bed, away from me.  He does that, too. 
Leaves me in sleep.  I leave him, too,
get up and pace
the dark for  hours, too tired
to be useful.  I finally sleep and go

somewhere he's never been, without him. 
When I dream of Florence, her refrigerator is full
of broken eggs.  She fries eggs for all the women
her husband courts, and everyone gets eggs
but me.  But why go back now, forty years later?
Menopause?  Dashed hopes, broken dreams?
Is, like John, my husband unfaithful?  "Remember
when you used to love me?" I ask my husband.
He tries the same on me.  "See how it hurts?"
He clings to me in bed, before he turns away,
clings as to a life-raft in a stormy sea.
I cling to him.  We're not unfaithful, only old
and getting daily older.

Mary Taitt
081205-1026-1c; 081205-0945 1st

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