Visit with the Newlyweds
From Mrs. Houdini, Poems of Rebecca McClanahan
She does not know how white her neck,
or how naked. He cannot pass her
without touching. It is summer,
their cotton clothes soft as gauze.
The relatives have given gifts
they will grow into. China teacups.
Glass birds. A clock with a second hand.
I have brought Sweet Williams.
She is amazed something so pink
can bloom every year without planting.
Yes, I answer. Eleven years for us.
Eleven? she asks and looks at the clock
As if everything were told in hours.
Upstairs by their bed, the wedding pillow.
Every night they marry again.
I want to tell them how crowded
the bed will become, how soon
he will sleep with her mother.
The bride yawns, her eyes
turning back the sheet.
Back home the sheets are thin,
the roses worn smooth
beneath bodies so familiar
we wear our skin like clothes.
You touch me and I move to lower
the straps I pretend are there.
Some nights I forget we are married.
Some nights it is all I know.