Who will be my husband’s next lover?
When we sign our names, releasing each other
from responsibility of each other’s choices,
and dinners, and car insurance—
Will he lay her pretty head on the mattress
we sent back to the manufacturer three times?
Never quite right—
too firm, sagging before its time,
an odiferous off-gassing that would not go away—
Will she leave her toothbrush in the cup
by the sink where mine now stands beside my daughter’s?
Will the morning birds herald her every awakening?
Or, will his lover take his coffee black
and his oats sweet with honey
while reading the Sunday post
at my place in the breakfast nook?
They’ll not have to pull their hair over our daughter’s
withdrawn countenance, nor mourn the peonies missing
their opportunity to bloom, having been planted
in the wrong place in our yard, too much in shadow.
They won’t remember the weight of lost parents,
of disappointment, of sacrifices too big to bear,
borne again and again.
Holidays will be all champagne and clean shirts,
tidy spreads of charcuterie, folding the good linen napkins crisp
on trim tailored laps, fine china, not my grandmother’s.
They won’t get lost in the mist and cloud
of tiny fingerprint reindeer ornaments,
pulling the treasured trimming from the same old box,
scarlet ribbon and evergreen.
Remembering when our children were small,
our lives so compact
on soft Saturday mornings
when they crept into our bed
and all our legs tangled the sheets,
captivity that felt safe
and kept us from running too quickly
to escape to our posts in the breakfast nook.
Family Heirloom Ghazal
With this ring, I thee wed…under myth, under blue sky; this ring
I now turn over and over in the palm of my hand. This ring
has trenched an infinite path around my finger;
a journey cutting circles around home. This ring
taunts me with its shine. Each faceted glimmer fragmenting time, the years
flashes of light– there, while tending the pot, while hand to heart in prayer. This ring
didn’t lie but didn’t exactly tell the truth. Bound and buried
with feathers and a jar of tears beneath the floorboard, this ring
still beckons. Urgent faithless rhythm, its Telltale Heart calling,
a ringing in my ears. I long to return it, this ring that did not know me, this ring
that can’t be disposed of. This ring now a family heirloom
to remind our children of sorrows and song and flight. A golden ring,
palm-side band worn thin. With this ring, I thee wed–
you said my name and placed on my finger a thing with wings, only a ring.
Shannon Cody is a writer, mother, and yoga teacher from Virginia. Her work explores themes of memory, family, and the convergence of the natural and personal. She spends her free time reading, writing, standing on her head, forest bathing, singing to her dogs, and dreaming of all the wonderful food she’ll eat on her next travels.
Image by AnnikaHendriksen, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons