David Swartz "RELIGION WITH AN EDGE"
biblicalfictions.com
Poetry for the Curious across the Religious Spectrum
SEQUENCE

 

SEQUENCE FOR AN ONLY WIFE

 SEQUENCE FOR AN ONLY WIFE

                                               

                        ))))))))))))) Johanna

 

 

 

i       

 

 

Perhaps you wanted sex this morning,

Slack breasts slick from the shower.

At six AM I tend to cower.

Head in a towel, you stepped out without warning,

The slender, too slender thighs,

Belly sag beneath the navel.

I was hardly in the mood or able.

I saw the hurt in your eyes.

You were never flawless.  I am hardly the standard.

Designer jeans are lost on our acres.

And yet we have never pandered

To the taut-ass, jogging set.

A Carvel store, the baker's

Down the street.  I have never eaten your regret.

 

ii    

 

I've caught up with you.

It only took me since this June.

We are now both 42.

42 is vengeance when it comes too soon.

Shall I court your mind?

In darkness I can eat just about anything

Of either gender.  Daylight's harder to be kind.

What do we really bring

To this relationship?  Familiarity's no sin.

Oh yes, you can be playful.

You were never careful.

And yet at times my patience wanes.  You've seen my grin,

That telltale abstraction in my eyes.

Can love succeed when loving tries?

 

iii  

 

Where are we together?  Are we matched?

I feel as if I've been running toward you all my life.

You are certainly my wife.

From time to time we've patched

That up.  The strain was often incredible.  This storm,

The latest, an empty nest?

When were we ever blessed?

The times I chased the worm

Between a stranger's thighs, the acid trips

From one breakdown to another—

Why did you really bother?

Today I try to piece it out, your lips,

Whatever.  You held me up for 14 years.

That I might never stand alone controlled your fears.

 

iv     

 

Let's get this straight.

I rediscover you each minute.

It has never been easy to be in it.

Your arms have kept ME straight

Since '64.

Oh yes, I look and sniff,

Bark and groan.  If

You're my secret, where's the mystery?  Or,

Are we together merely to survive?

You are a stranger,

I know that.  Perhaps I thrive

On self-deception.  Are you the greatest danger?

Perhaps I know you better than my own mean spirit.

I must confess I fear it.

 

v      

 

You fear my poetry, focus on the cat.

You fear my mind.

You fear I will be unkind.

You fear fear itself.  It's like that.

You fear I will recover.

You fear I will cease to be afraid.

You fear you HAVEN'T been betrayed.

You fear I will discover

You fearing me.  You fear me.

You fear I will leave, as if that's in the cards.

You fear I might send you my regards.

You fear that fear is just an apparition.

You fear my contrition.

You fear my absence.  You fear me.  You fear prettily.

 

vi      

 

You called at 10, at noon.

I was anxious to be back at this,

And yet I said I love you.  Closed with a kiss

To the space between us.  Soon

I'll check the mail,

Dissect the contents of the freezer.

This old geezer

Still sniffs your tail.

Give me time!  Give me time!

If love's ambivalent, first love is often just an itch.

We'll fall into rhyme,

No hurry.  Even rhyme can be a bitch.

I guess I love you.  It never seemed to matter.

And then what's sadder, coming on or when they scatter?

 

vii    

 

Jesus.  By the time I'm through

Here we'll have to separate.

I don't know whether mercy's queer or straight.

I'm in such a stew.

But then you called me out on Stephanie,

Writing sonnets to my daughter.

Even that wasn't purely tenderness and laughter.

I'd like to see what you'd do to me

With HALF my talent.

Up to now I've rarely had the bent

To record my feelings, my HOW DO I LOVE THEE?

Well I'll take thee doubled, prone, standing.

I'm not that demanding.

I'll take thee up a tree, love withstanding.

 

viii  

 

Let's call it said and done.

Such poems, I mean.

I'd hoped to write something wistful, serene.

Just 20 minutes back I had the runs.

Maybe we'll scotch the project, turn to Keats

Or Browning.

I'm through with clowning.

That whole breed, what a clot of cheats!

If love was meant to be sublime

We'd never need to shore it up with rhyme

Or nosegays, flutes, or other measures.

Perhaps humankind treasures

Its illusions.

I've had enough of love's confusions!

 

ix      

 

On the other hand I'll let it stand

That you are lovely beyond treasure

Or humankind unsightly measure,

Soft as the spring, as if the spring had planned

Your fragile beauty,

Not in the sense of shape

Or garment's drape

Or even duty,

But rather to gather what it knew was best

Of other seasons, summer, winter, autumn,

Awesome,

As if God had blessed the rest

And framed your eyes to melt the sunlight into rain

And torment, knowing such would never, never come again.

 

                                             1981