Skip to content

Now rise from the bath, your hair caught up with a peg.

The water peels back from your breasts like the film from

        a cooking egg.

You cleanly cleave your arse as you lift one leg

to the edge of the tub and start to work the towel

from ankle to thigh, then into the damson bevel

of your crotch, after which you sit, heel to knee,

on a raffia chair, your quim guerning to a scowl

as you slip your foot into the foot

of your stocking. Next, it's your face coming free

of the summer dress, as you greet

yourself in the mirror. Here's how it goes after that:

        foundation, powder, eye-

shadow, blusher, mascara,

lipstick pressed to a tissue ... that perfectly mute

syllable of love (love, or it could be hate)

that I pick up and pocket to re-read later.

The same summer dress you loosened and dropped with a

        clatter

of tiny buttons on tile as I backed you up to the table,

our first night under this roof, and you The Biddable

Spouse, slipping your foot out of the foot

of your stocking ... The same table

you cover with a red checkered cloth, setting the bread,

        the butter,

the plum preserve, and the best we have of china.

Ur-wife. Wife of wives.

I'm close enough for ambush as you pass with your box

        of knives.

Marriage XV

David Harsent

More from
Poem of the Week

Dzvinia Orlowsky

Wine of Angels

translated from the Ukrainian written by
Natalka Bilotserkivets