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A Housewife

 

She cleans the tidy house when he's not there,

Restless as memories best left alone,

And tells herself he's learning how to care.

 

Dusting, she dreams he will caress her hair,

His rough hands soft notes on a saxophone.

He is so sensitive when he's not there.

 

Once home, he sprawls out in his leather chair

And yells at her to get the telephone.

She does, thinking he's learning how to care,

 

He's just a man, and life is never fair.

Such phrases, muttered in Mom's monotone,

Pace through her mind like monks when he is there.

 

That night, beneath him, trembling like a hare,

She feels him penetrate her, hears him groan,

And tells herself he's learning how to care.

 

Her life with him is an unquestioned prayer

Chanted against an ominous unknown.

She cleans the tidy house when he's not there

And tells herself he's learning how to care.

 

Jeff Holt

 

 

2001; originally printed in The Cumberland Poetry
Review
.  Reprinted by permission of the author.

 

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