Keep your voice down, my husband hissed this morning across his plate, then knotted his tie to a fist that would hold all day. Wedged in our thin walls against the silence of neighbors we haven't met, I folded my napkin, shoved the last word back in my throat and later jogged extra laps as though my feet could make some mark on firm ground, could make everything clear. I remove my damp sweatclothes, shivering now in the best boutique I can find. An older woman shrugs out of a fur soft as fog and gathers up jade, silver, apple-green silks, all hushed and viciously expensive. She wraps herself in a gown the color of doves, a shadow body that follows no husband. I'm sure their house holds a room where she dreams, sends letters, while someone downstairs seasons the greens and filets and a reasonable hunger warms her like firelight. If her children should quarrel on the darkening lawn she drifts outside to soothe each with a story, her voice adding girth to itself like the wine, open, breathing by his plate. I want to ask for my size in a gown like hers. I want to fill a gown with breasts like hers, and move through our rooms like a boat through any water. I finger aqua silk made for real hips and shoulders I, too, could have after twenty seasons-- it turns a whole room blue where I enter myself as I dress, where my garments turn overhead light back on itself like fine paintings. Downstairs he slices meat striped with fat and pink flesh, while I finger each pearl on the choker he gave me when money was tight. The blue folds drift over my body, that house filled with rooms left by daughters and sons, that house given over to pale silk and stone, its silence my secret, my eyes raised to meet hers in the triple mirror.
From Are You Experienced? Baby Boom Poets at Midlife, edited by Pamela Gemin, published by University of Iowa Press. Copyright © 2002 by University of Iowa Press. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.