The Poker Player's Wife
Her fingers on the felt,
wedding ring a cluster of glass
to distract their hands.
She's the book of his game
spread out before them, click
of red nails on a cocktail glass.
She makes them nervous--
notices the unbuttoning
of a collar, the tremble
of a cuff link.
He's coached her.
Mostly, she's tired and wants to tug
on his shirt sleeve and beg to go,
to pull back peppermint sheets
and crawl in, certain that the night
will be long enough and good.
She looks around the casino
wonders if there's an infirmary--
a place like in school where one could,
with a pungent coin
under the tongue, feign fever and rest.
The Lover's Wife
and already she feels lard
melting behind her eyes.
She thinks about the room again
the zipper pocket inside her handbag
where all of his old lovers are preening:
Suzanne hums in a pink dress.
By the yellow clock on the wall,
she waits for Jesus.
Linda stands in the middle of the room talking
about the difference between words
like "healthy" and "healthful."
Jennifer clanks a door-knocker earring in her hand.
She assures the others that drug abusers and alcoholics
could stop if they really wanted to.
May dances ballroom with a male mannequin
in a black tuxedo.
Mara tries to fix her nose job with pink modeling clay.
The carpet is the bottom of this black hand bag.
Lint, gum wrappers, hair, collect by the handful;
he vacuums twice a day.
She gets up and walks to the bedroom,
throws back the white sheet.
Fetal, she yanks it up around her chin
and it coats like hot cellophane.
She thinks about falling into that room,
how she wants to check in.
The Mathematician's Wife
One time, he gave me a photograph
of his mind: daguerreotype, loose
beads of mercury. It was a picture
of tools: yellow school rulers nicked
black inches, protractors and graphs,
cherry pie charts, a flickering compass
penciling sharp circles.
He assured me that when I ask
what he's thinking and he says nothing
he means this: that he's measuring angles
of ceiling tiles, calculating compression
of bed springs, computing feet, yards, meters
between work and home.
His brain does this all on its own--
its little conductors in blue-striped
overalls and hats, whistle-strings
in their hands. I don't recognize
this photograph; I wonder where my
face is. I'm curled up in his biggest tooth
protecting his body from old
because the photo would never help me
find him if he were lost: his body being
the only geometry I know.