You must know
"It was at that age
that poetry came in search of me.”
You must know there are times
I will not choose you over the poem;
I will not choose your email, text
or pouting silence over the verse;
I will not be swayed by a bulging zipper
or swollen suitcase by the entrance.
If you want to be first in someone’s life
you must know it can never be mine.
I'll never be the faithful wife
skinning carrots at the sink;
a gimlet eye’d grandmother supervising,
her starched apron and recipe splayed
submissively across the counter -
contents spooned carefully
by measured taste; the roast, flayed
awaiting its wake to commence -
garlic attendees of potatoes and carrots
following into the oven's heated pyre.
I'll never be the faithful mistress
donned in your favorite négligée
at the door holding a drowning olive
after a choice cocktail party --
alarm at attention so we don’t fall asleep
alerting your wife to your late absence.
I'll be in the tub with the poem instead;
gluttonous ink splashing imagery
over its porcelain skin with each spit
of candle and stroke of pen.
You must know in bed I'll fantasize
about the poem, how it carried me
continent to continent, shielding
my isolated survival from extinction
while hunted by laundered mindsets
whose truth hung on clotheslines to dry
before ironing their firm sects of belief;
spread themselves as meticulously
embroidered modesty sheets
carefully monitoring the privacy
of conjugal enjoyment.
You must know the poem
is 'One Hundred Years of Solitude',
its plantation abandoned by death;
it’s 'All the archived Names'
without Ariadne’s Thread;
the Life that Pi actually dreamt
'The Shipping News' reporting anthologies
modern American beats underground;
it’s 'Water for Chocolate' torched
by match heads; it's 'Midnight
in the Garden of Good and Evil';
it's Romeo; it's Juliette.
You must know that if betrayed
by lies or entrapment I will escape
elope, even commit suicide
before captured alive;
we’ll die together, deeply inhaling afterlife
as Plath – taping your sleeping existence
away from us, towels caulking the frame;
and you, you must know
you'll wake lonelier than you’ve ever been.
Literary references: Pablo Neruda, Gabriel García Márquez,
José Saramago, Yann Martel, E. Annie Proulx, Laura Esquivel,
John Berendt, William Shakepeare, Sylvia Plath.