From I Spy: Prose Poems

by Elizabeth Powell

12. District Courthouse, Divorce Court, White Plains, New York

His wedding ring shimmered like an inviting lake. His height was like a diving board, something she wanted to accomplish. She would perfect the three step approach before the bounce and lift off, before she’d let go into her swan dive. For now, her divorce papers in hand like an edict, proclamation of having a broken meter reader. Of course, she knew this man, handsome in his friendliness, following the elevator to the top—small claims—could never deliver what he’d promise as they made their way skyward, amazed at their similarities.

Her friends would eventually have their thesis statements and favorite words ugly as burnt casserole—weasel, just run, you’re fucked. Indeed, he was a nuisance, but she didn’t know that yet. But that was what made him so appealing.

She could only see the way the elevator light lifted them heavenward, not to doom; himself the sky father, herself the earth mother. She was letting a silly school girl hope boa feather seduce her again.

Yes, he was a sociable sort, raised on cocktail parties and good manners. Yes, he was just like his father, her father, her husband, that tired repetition of plot and narrative. To the invisible undercurrent of evidence he would plead to her— nolo contendere. Cheating would be his secret religion, his iron clad non-disclosure agreement, and she? She would be called simply, the bitch, all her vulnerabilities on paper once again, a writ of habeas corpus, a kind of toxic tort that read good in bed, to just this kind of man.

The Wife Notebooks – 1. Apocalyptic Wife

But why compare?
I’m wife! Stop there!
Emily Dickinson

I married the apocalypse, I adored

The way he rode his white horse through the door, the way

My mother abhorred him, his hot sun

Eclipsing me there with its permanent stare.

We had meant to live modestly until our time drew near,

But I became unsanitized, compromised from clipping coupons,

Swatting winged houseflies. I prayed twice a day

For a kind a comfort I knew did not exist, except in England at tea,

But knew that was no place for me. He had a director’s voice

Deep and unqualified, madmen with arms listened,

And so did I. Nothing to do now. Except watch

The black flies bow their heads to winter, toward his dull light

Of what’s to come, how sometimes I think the end will smell of him,

The moist stench of rafters, wood and old tin.

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