As if my own odors weren’t enough
but the drudging shape of her life
page by page, hour by hour, the serge suits
and the roses in the park. I don’t live
there, and it’s none of my business. She
doesn’t live there anymore; it’s none
of anyone’s business. That the spirit
rose or fell, that the laundry was done
or was not, that her courage bore her
as it bores me, through long days of
spitcurls and housepaint and magazines
and 40 dollars or so more a month.
It’s reverse alchemy: she who strove
to rise above the muck—now patiently,
mercilessly, returned to accident,
routine, and soured love.
What she wrote to him, what the reviews said—
don’t ask.

And keep these days

off the record, this smell of contraction
in dry steam heat, the smell
of the shape of the bodies we trust will
not long hold us here.

This Issue

July 18, 1985