End of the Patriarch's Wife
I hear you breathing at a distance.
Beneath your eyes, the seeings hurry.
Each regret is an apology, it seems,
and grows into a hard lump that causes indigestion.
Skin stretches and they press your arms
to stop you hurting yourself. You blame me, I know,
and that is right thus far: I should be sentimental.
Mouth at me in pain I have no feeling. Right again
in this and yet not right. An accident of birth
is all of our conjoining. I own you not –
and the dead sex jumps in your throat.
Let me wipe away the threads of bile. What do you remember?:
a man who ankled the shallows of kindness
and splashed your temples from time to time. You thought
you had safety by right in a big house. Let me say,
he took the serving-girl without you knowing. Incredible
to you. Which one, which one? Impossible! And why?
At last, you rage freely, incontinent and unarrested.
Such a babble! Hush, now, someone will hear.
Tonight, you will walk again with Father. Your small hand
closes inside his like an old Chinese foot. After a while,
it no longer hurts to be held in this way and, besides,
you are a tolerant kind of ghost. You glide
along the neat boulevards, bright as a bird.
It is summer. It is winter. And, all about, the couples smile.