wife — a role assumed, — poem

I never expected when the band slipped on my finger

that you could learn to sabotage my dream

my white picket fence

my unborn embryo

my roses climbing, the steep tumble of them thorned

but everbright with blossom


Even in these years I find it hard

to say I can no longer love you

maybe we were friends

maybe that was a role we assumed

or I assumed


I assumed you wouldn’t try and hurt me

as I wouldn’t try and hurt you

that things like love and honor and cherish

weren’t just words rolled off our tongues


I assumed that we might respect each other at least

given all we’ve gone through

given how I thought we were holding each other up

the 27 years we did that, wearing golden circles you picked out


Walking around the house

I look for evidence that you were ever even here

there are some shoes under a bed

papers, books, a pair of glasses

the inscriptions in books my mother gave you


I don’t want to assume the worst about you

even as my heart turns a corner

even as my heart circles back around

and I pace in rooms where we once laughed

or toasted, toasty-warm under rain.


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