What is the shelf life of a valentine second wife?
I’m about to find out after 24 years of my life.
Will I be sufficiently reserved, sufficiently preserved,
to go back into the super market
for the salad bar, of round number three?
What is the shelf life of a valentine first wife?
After 25 years of joy and strife,
I know the answer to that one.
With Numero Uno, I had three blue eyed sons.
Where I live, the state I live in,
ten, just ten, only ten years marks a long marriage.
It’s the law, baby…
Well, then, Mom & Dad in the sky with the glimmer
of the big and little dipper
and with Orion’s sparkling starry belt,
no need to cry that your first born baby is less than.
Not a failure, or two time loser, after all.
Should I wear the diamond as proof
of your little girl’s success? Am I a mess…no or yes?
My story may be boring…
But how can I be labeled failure
when I have two, yes two, count that:
two 20 year marriages
to draw from
with my whimsical writer’s wand?
Mom, Dad, toss me two gold stars
for my good behavior chart
and a Valentine prayer.
Let’s pray that numero tres will be the charm.
I’ll no longer be candy on El Segundo’s arm.
I am out of black ink,
so this page is full of white space
I should be feeling free, rosy pink
Instead I lack a sense of place
on Thursday he yelled
“Get out, get out, get out…”
I surprised myself and said
“This home is mine,
As much as yours.
I’ve lived here eleven years with you”
Let him put that in his ivory white pipe
And dark smoke it.
Second hand smoke swirls around me.
But I am no longer second hand Rose.
Now that I am full of life again
No longer Stepford wife
He wants to put me out
like his last cigarette.
Our 46th wedding anniversary
And we’re sick in bed
Sick in the head
Sick of being sick
The two of us tied
To matrimonial vows
Till death do us part
Affixed to Darwinian thought
It’s called survival of the fittest
Those born to
To hoops and flares
On the rock and roll shores
Of the Galapagos Islands
With red footed boobies
Blue footed boobies
With my boobies on the sag down
But in our bed on heart to heart
We jump through hoops
Walk the trapeze line
Flame through fire
With our hands curled
Under electric blankets
My small fingers tucked tight
To the rough and tough of your hands
Because what can you say
When it’s all said and done
We made those vows
Forty-six years ago
To hang in there
In sickness and in health
To the final finish line
If Marsha hadn’t wanted to find a new love
If she hadn’t wanted to go it alone
To the Young Democratic Party meeting
If she hadn’t asked me to simmer down
With so many romances on high flame in my life
If you hadn’t been at the entryway
Sweet smiling at all the beautiful ladies
If I hadn’t been wearing the cranberry sweater set
Made of cashmere so soft to the fingers
If I hadn’t curled my black Veronica Lake locks
Brushed them a hundred times to high shine
If I hadn’t silly smiled at you when you called me Florence
And I said my name was Rosalind
If we hadn’t laughed at how funny that was
How you thought it was so cool
To watch me sign my name
And you read my chicken scrawl all wrong
And we roared ourselves into a bowl of howls
If you hadn’t looked so hot and handsome
In that beautiful fitting gray sharkskin suit
If your body hadn’t been so lean and mean
If you hadn’t found me at City College
Twenty-four hours after we’d met
If your kisses hadn’t been so delicious
If your tongue hadn’t brought me to hot, hot, hot
If you hadn’t smelled so damn good
Looked so mighty damn fine
Acted so utterly damn charming
If you hadn’t worn an ascot
On our first date together
If you hadn’t said you loved me
Ten days after we met in Manhattan
If you hadn’t asked me to marry you
If we hadn’t married eleven weeks later
If we hadn’t honey combed two terrific daughters
And two awesome grand daughters
If you hadn’t filled my life with adventure
Encouraging me to yes, yes, yes
When I wanted to nip and tuck
All our seams to no, no, no
If we hadn’t survived heart disease
Cancers, diabetes, chronic pains
Surgery after surgery after surgery
If you hadn’t said write, write, write
You’re a writer, by god, you are
If Marsha hadn’t sweet talked me
To attend that political soiree
How would I have savored so much joy
The forty-six years we’ve been together?
I tried to find him entertaining, but in fact
I was the one remaining in the booth
with seats of leather
while he beckoned her heather.
Yes, he wanted fruit and turkey.
The waitress said there was no fruit.
Undeterred, he asked for mayo and mustard
offered me half, half his sandwich, half his lunch.
While my muse was making eyes
at the waitress I now despise
for her slim, tall youth,
I was the one remaining in the booth
The waitress pranced about, danced up the aisle,
used her saber to lance my smile and
brought him plain old tacky French’s, a tacky yellow ordinary mustard
in a tacky yellow plastic squeezer.
My hunch is she’s every inch a teaser
She may not know the pleasure of Grey Poupon
But she knows what she’s attracting
like a bee to honey.
Once reserved for me, he gave
the mustard bearer his fanfare as if she presented
him with a rare tasty Dijon, as if I weren’t there
remaining in the booth of leather.
My former muse now her regular, a regular diner, a regular bee
For she smiled honeymustard as we departed
and said to him and not to me
Thanks for coming back and back and back to my hive
Oh, yes, I used to do splits,
so flexible was I
body of a gymnast, I was told
but my mind too needed exercise
Besides when Granpop saw me
do a split on the stage &
then when I lowered my head
to the hardwood floor,
he and everyone heard a CLOP,
he issued the edict
I was to stop…I minded.
he feared I hurt my head
He put an end to it
School of hard knocks…
Knock hard on hard wood, wood, wood
knock some sense into me
I try to put my marriage back
back together, back again
If I be flexible again, again & again
but see, it is not just up to me. He rigid.
Will it split, will we split,
Will it be split ends?
I was pouring my heart out
to him in the
kitchen when his
he answered it
a. so secure in our deep, abiding love that he already knew all that mushy
stuff and found my verbal vulnerability redundant. or
b. he was preoccupied, as usual. or
c. he wasn’t listening in the first place; I mean my lips moved but
the sound was on
mute.choose one, please.
We are what’s left.
We are the remains.
We are the tongue of the dead and the silent.
We are what they were thinking.
They are crawling inside of us,
inside our gall, willing us to remember everything.
They are on parade in our unconscious
deciding when and where.
We are what’s left.
We are the dim hope of the gone.
Us: our hands and voices.
Hear them screaming for just one more day to love
and be loved.
We are what’s left,
we are the remains of love.