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I   L e a r n

To each new man my mother
Brought with her to her bed,
And there were many
Strung along like beads on a necklace,
She said she loved him.

My father returned from war,
A soldier honored.
He was the only man
To whom she said those words now.
He said he loved her too.

I often wondered whose picture it was
I watched him set light to the other day
And shed his tears in silence.
She seemed to be
pretty enough,
He need not have destroyed her.

I whisper sweet nothings now
In my husband’s ear
Hoping he’ll leave soon.

Maybe I can let
The young man at church
Who made eyes at me yesterday
Into my bed today.


[First published in Surface Online, 2003]

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