Robert tells me that running my finger through the dust
creates microscopic scars in the wood.
You shouldn't do that, he says,
and talks about the magnificent piano his wife
insists was ruined from such impulsive behavior.
I’m in the lobby of the law firm, leaving for the night,
and I think but don't say that the nicest piece
of furniture I own is the cage in which my bird lives.
Walking to my car, I pass the woman who may or may not be
the prostitute rumored to visit Robert in his office after dark.
The cleaning woman, when our hours cross, is always giddy
to relay new slivers of gossip. I don't take bait so easily.
I know about emptiness and loneliness,
and I won't judge.
Robert and this woman are,
after all, no worse than I have been,
sleeping with that ex-boyfriend, knowing in the morning
he'd take my children out for winter coats,
or flirting with each handyman who came
to my apartment, hoping to be rescued in any way,
even slightly, by a smile. Convincing anyone who'd look
pianos aren't the only beautiful things so easily ruined.
My car starts and I leave the garage, look up
at the light still on in Robert's office,
drive back to my children, warm in the house
of the man who finally rescued me,
to the dust on furniture that never was mine,
to the bird swirling and chirping
in its magnificent cage.
THERE'S PUNISHMENT FOR WANT
It’s never in your best interest
to grip desire with both hands.
The history of that world
tells itself in pumpkins,
cripplings. Sure we all
have to marry the wrong man
at least once. That’s not
the problem. It’s here
in your thoughts. Look
at Thumbelina, whose idea
of herself was so grand
she left men at altars
all over the underworld
and then became a swan.
How’s ever after
but happily? A bore
deadly to the girl who wants
wants, who only faces herself
in mirrors and craves
the man who feeds on cravings.
Greedy, greedy, listen -
there are special curses
for women like us.
I have only heard them
as I pass
who know me.
WHATEVER IT TAKES
Come sit at this table
with its crossed legs and backless chairs
and tea that’s cold
All the girls love this game
and talk for hours
before and after
about how happy they will be,
how happy they were,
how happy they will be again
I like poison! It’s my biggest problem,
but sometimes I make things worse
by not using a napkin
and painting danger kisses.
If happy was enough, we’d be happy.
Listen to these dolls not talking. Beautiful.
I want to boil tea in my mouth. Shut up! You’re boiling!
Of all the beauty and happiness there is,
this is the most happy and beautiful a girl can be!
All the good girls are your friends!