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The Meal

She will eat it and then eat more.
She will wake to her skin turned
its color, and her hair, the whites
of her eyes, too. She will smell
of it. She will reek of it. She will
burst of it. So good it is.

The path between stove and chair.

The serving of it into her largest
bowl. The rich, brown reddishness,
the tawny spice of it. The spooning
of it into her mouth. The dripping
down her chin and neck, down
her cleavage.

(Leave it there, he'd say.)

Where he is, she does not know.
Even if he returns today
she will neither believe
nor disbelieve his explanation.
Perhaps he's husband and father
to countless others. Daughters. Ballet.

The endless runs for groceries. Fertilizer.

I like to walk. To Englewood! To Westport!
(He points to his worn out shoes and rock hard legs.)
Where he's been she does not know.
Weeks in fugue state out by Jones Beach?
Penniless weeks cruising the darknesses
under the George Washington Bridge?

Everywhere. Nowhere.

"Back in an hour. Shopping. We need stuff."
She tears up the note on the kitchen table,
its envelope overstuffed with tiny pink hearts
spilling into her lap, glittering between
the floor planks, hearts everywhere, unbroken.
Who is he who dared enter her sleeping?

Whose scent on her pillowcases this morning?

He, who would mistake the contents of her pot
for his own, who would eat his way to its bottomó
Let him chew the fat with his other brides.
Let him remain away! Such a headache now. Such
everything. Bad breakfast. Ruined lunch. Devastated dinner
he'll expect her to share. She wakes to a mouthful of husbands.

Martha Rhodes

The Beds
Autumn House Press

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