no longer his wife by Maia Penfold

The Red Buddha - Poems by Maia Penfold

The poem below is included in The Red Buddha, Maia Penfold’s collected poems. For ordering info, go here…


she’s married a man
who is she tells her relatives in vermont
as totally different from jim as you
can possibly imagine this man
raises horses that graze in the pasture
beside their breakfast windows
in the silver mists of early dawn


this man is dependable this man
does all the housework and
gripes about it she says the house
which is registered as historical
is his passion it is like
a museum to him and he is
the curator i am impressed by
how the great stairway glows
how windows gleam


it is so spotless and beautiful
i hardly dare walk or breathe
in it upstairs they put me
in a bedroom with a fine film
of dust over it and when i
lie down the mattress crashes to
the floor i go down to tell
them about it that always
happens he says and with a sigh
goes up to set it right


in the morning he drives me
to my conference i compliment
him on the beauty of the house


it’s a lot of work he says
his jaws tight his lips pressing
out the words ironing anger in
his tone tells me he is
insufficiently appreciated
and taken advantage of he teaches
french for a living


i remember wet towels
on the bathroom floor in that
other house with that other man
plants needed water dogs
yelped and barked
the exuberance of it


everything needed something
and said so
everything was only pretending
to be tame had been
wild yesterday and would be
wild again tomorrow
that yellow light in willy’s
eyes that sheen on the
dog’s fur that primitive posturing
of the rooster and the hens
the parade of tulips
the leaves held secrets
flowers opened their wide corollas
everything teetering in
shafts of sunlight on a cliff’s edge


i miss that the wide open
hospitality steaks
we cooked at sunset
eaten under a sky
sprinkled with stars


i miss that


stepping carefully out of his car


i miss that


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