i. The Mud Wife
A green thumb for certain, though
a poor hand with a broom. She limps
when it rains, but fears the fire in
the grate. Serves salad for breakfast.
Knows nothing bad, and suspects
good is verdant but she doesn’t own
the language to speak it. Her family
is quiet, though her brother wakes
every thousand years and wreaks
havoc at the borders of town. Her
children are always grubby, though
they’ll pick berries all day and laugh
at thorns. She’s cloddish but will
never leave you. You love her tickle
in your ribs late at night, her grit
between your teeth.
ii. The Weasel Wife
Your best cufflinks go missing. You
don’t care. Shiny quarters, the change
you pour out at the end of the day, a
pocket full of metal soup she stirs into
nothing. You come across her whipcord
spine bent to listen at doors. But for the first
time in years, you balance each month. She
cooks stew and polishes silverware, while
the root cellar grows pyramids of turnips
and paper. She reads everything. She keeps
her figure: you can’t complain, she’s
a brown reed of a woman who slips into
the room where she keeps accounts,
where she rolls a nest of bills
into a false-bottomed coffee can.
iii. The Monkey Wife
Smart as paint, she’s good with tools and not
afraid of climbing up to shingle the roof. Fresh
fruit every day, great for the kids. She’s sweettempered,
ready to grin with those big beautiful
teeth. She loves a party, and laughs—people say
she doesn’t know how, but you see it. She winds
her arms around your neck and kisses by the book.
She can’t swim and screams when the dog runs by.
It’s so damn ugly, she says, and it smells like
death. She hates it when you shave. She works
in a lab, looks better in her long white coat than
in any dress. You fell in love with her hands
around the test tube held up to the light, her curious
look, eureka in her eyes.