Has been stripped to her white back. She extends her begging bowl, shelf by shelf, into the air. In response, the young woman sets on her shampoos, perfumes. The bookcase is starving. She wants voices that approach her edge and argue for hours. She also wants, when she is tired, a poet to recite for her, something old, with a rabbit in it, or barley sheaves. She wants to know that when the song is finished, the child will come and it will live. If someone does not give her something of this, and soon, the bookcase will die, and there will be nothing left in the room but bottles, fluffing up their hair and simpering in the mirror.
How the table longs to stroke the bed’s pink dress. How it tortures him to watch her smooth white skin appear as night after night someone peels her down. Poor ugly servant, he squats by her side, recipient of glasses, of diagrams of planets that appear and are remade, as if the sublimity of his punishment were written on his back.
Is the plain sort. He likes to reflect the white wall before him. He likes being the first to know who is opening the door. He registers the little changes, a new continent on the carpet, the way dust gathers other dust to itself around the bed’s foot, the way, one six a.m., the lampshade is tilted at a rakish angle as if it had gone off whistling during the night. He never complains of his lot, even to himself, never wishes for rococo cupids or tapestries of hunting scenes, or portraits of beautiful naked women, majas or otherwise. He is the husband of her dreams, registers lovingly each new curve and sag of her face, bathes her in his broad light as she comes in.
Lola Haskins‘ poems have appeared in The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, The London Review of Books, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Her most recent collection is The Grace to Leave (Anhinga, 2012). Among her awards are two Florida book awards, the Iowa Poetry Prize, four Florida writing fellowships, two NEAs, two narrative poetry prizes, and the Emily Dickinson/Writer Magazine Award from The Poetry Society of America. She joined the faculty of Rainier Writer’s Workshop, a low residency MFA program, in 2005.