Like newlyweds or parents-to-be,
we were thrilled for weeks
by our courage. But for the first
few days after moving, we argued fiercely
over minor things: whether to center
the loveseats on the fireplace,
and who had forgotten to pack
the wine-stopper, shaped
like the Bridge of Sighs,
we’d bought to remind ourselves
how happy we had been in Venice.
My mother, who was dying
that fall, insisted we take the trip
as planned and made me promise
we would be happy. As she held out
her arms to say goodbye, flesh fluttered
from the bone. For nearly two weeks
we did as she’d asked. Then we came home.
During the day I felt queasy,
as if I’d stepped out of my car
onto the deck of an aircraft carrier
covering three small states
and christened the Delmarva.
It was November, and the cold
had followed me south,
although there were days
whose mildness was surprising enough
to make me suspect their motives.
At night I gripped the rails of the headboard
to steady my thoughts. This
was where I lived now: next to my husband
in our new bed, a vast expanse
of blanket and sheet across which,
in the middle of the night, I often reached
and could not find him.
In the local bookstore one day,
I meet a woman with skin my age.
I keep her phone number until I find
the courage to offer a glass of wine.
All day I’m distracted by what to wear—
I haven’t felt this way in years.
Only after our blood has cooled
do we realize that we’ve made fools
of ourselves for men for years and begin
to channel that ardor toward other women.
As if savoring an affair’s delicious imminence,
I contemplate the making of a friend.