...women are the biggest single bad thing Zeus has made for us; a ball-and-chain; we can’t get loose.

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.