I want to burn my husband’s face—
melt his nose and pop his eyes
watch his mouth run and drip
..............................like candle wax
until he is a blister, a scab
that I can peel and destroy
and open again every time
............................he needs to write his story
about the war or his dead sister or how life used to be free
of me and his son—
I think of this when he asks
if I am upset with him.

I always answer     no

and let him off easy
because his story is darker
than mine, than the dirt used to
feed plants, used to give nutrients
to roots in muddy coal grit. Because
his story is wordless and starless.
He is both the dead
body and the grave      the space
and the soil.

I always answer      no

and let him smile
let him take our son’s hand
let him try       let him try
let him take in air and try
to fill himself.
I hurt for him
because his family stopped after his sister
his Audrey was blank and heavy
and now he is raw.

He told me once
before we were married
his body was important to him
that he couldn’t use sex
on me—waste the possibility
of love if he didn’t
.....................love. Think like a
wounded falcon—he wants to wait
and attack at random, but now he is
trapped, unable to fly.
The river is high and cold
in the sun.

It is muddy.
It is morning.
I drive him home
.........................and let him cry
I let him write
and hope he finds his story
like I found mine
        how are you so sure he asks.
I tell him my secrets and
forget-me-nots. I tell him I never know.
I didn’t know I would meet him.
I didn’t know from that day on we
would portrait each other. That
we would gravitate and circle
and move like birds.
       How are you so sure he asks.

I’m not, I tell him. I force
myself to say   no
and hope he comes back
again—he makes mistakes
like asking Jane to marry him years before us
like smoking pot and turning his liver black
years before us—and setting his car
on fire and sleeping with those girls and kissing
those men and passing on scorn
to Clair, that some girl, that hole
choked full and empty and firing that gun
to kill—years before us.

Now I remember,
he is already burning.