The Other Woman Reflects on Matrimony
Last time we met, I was most
like a bride as I have ever been.
You sat, tired, on the edge of the bed.
I patted your back, your knee.
I bent down and unlaced
your shoe. I wanted to go
to my knees, perform
some obscene task of mistress.
Instead, I took your soiled clothes
and laundered them. I sat
on the closed lid of the toilet
and watched you shower.
When you were clean and dry,
I followed you back to bed.
I turned off the light,
lay down beside you.
I let you sleep.
This is my red dress
and black boots,
my hair done up in curls.
This is you nodding,
and smiling, and unlocking the door.
This is me getting into your car like a whore.
This is Where are we driving? There’s
nowhere to go. This is what I wanted,
you reaching over the emergency break,
me the emergency in my red dress.
This is us, making a bigger mess
of your marriage, my hair.
This is your fingertips, your face
lit by a streetlamp’s glow.
It watches us, it doesn’t approve.
It drowns out the moon.
This is you undoing my red dress.
This is your crude jokes, then
my feet knocking into the horn,
sending off a blast into the night.
This is the ember tip of
your cigarette, the smoke of it
and then the streetlamp coughing.
The Best Place for You is Home with Your Wife
Because I can’t cook – not pork n’ beans, nor dumplings,
nor roast, nor pie, nor greens, nor sauce, nor gravy,
nor casserole, nor biscuit, nor ham, nor potatoes,
nor cake, nor ribs, nor rice, nor lamb, nor squash,
nor soup, nor fish, nor corn, nor okra,
not anything with a spoon, or pot, or ladle,
or grill, or mixing bowl, or pan, or skillet, or fork,
or knife, or baking sheet, or cleaver, or rolling pin,
or measuring cup, or toaster oven, or mallet,
or grater, or tongs, or thermometer, or dish or teaspoon.
And what good are fingers slid softly over skin in the dark?
Any fool can do that.
When I get to feeling real hollowed out,
I think of apples and how I like to wear
red dresses, even if I have a bruise
on my knee, the fabric tight as fruit skin.
I like to eat through the crisp meat
until I see pale tendons that make
a little chamber for the seeds. I like
the seeds, dark and hard and private.
In a red dress, I am dark and hard
and private. If you take an apple
and core it down the center, toss
the stem aside, the fruit will hold
its shape, like nothing’s happened.
Evil Things I Would Do to Have You
I would offer to lead an old woman
through a crosswalk then stop
mid-way and leave her stranded.
I would poison the water supply,
spy on my country, drown a sack
of kittens, take you from your wife
and children, let them wonder and cry and ache.
Amber Shockley has published poetry in a variety of print and online publications, including Rattle and Gargoyle Magazine. Her first chapbook, A Brief Catalog of Common People, was published this year by Main Street Rag. She serves as assistant poetry editor for Atticus Review and enjoys creating book trailers for other writers of all genres.