Friday, June 24, 2022


Their third wheel defrays the costs
Of the small, two-bedroom house,
Down the alley, near the stream.

It’s winter, which means something
In Missoula. Days never
Get anywhere near to thaw.

The air’s a brown inversion
From the wood stoves and pick-ups,
The paper mills and old cars.

The sidewalks are scalloped ice,
Dark, petrified streams themselves
Between banks of dirty snow.

In summer they’ll be married
In a small, Quaker service
On Christine’s family farm,

In the clear, green evening air.
For now, they’re cohabiting
In town, in this grubby house,

The back bedroom occupied
By a hairball of a man,
A grad student who's their friend,

Sort of, although he listens
To godawful punk music
And clomps around in huge boots,

Never cooking or cleaning,
At which Christine sometimes weeps
With frustration and wanting

To be a good feminist,
A womanist, but also
A good Quaker and a wife.

She stands at the sink, watching
Dark snow through the small window,
Listening to the wind chimes

Rattle down the alleyway
In the murky afternoon.
This has to be over soon.

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