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Lauren Smith
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A Short History of Marriage

A big man came in a box labeled
This is your husband. What had I ordered—
a slush band, a hush rand, a crushed hand—
that had been so misunderstood? Still,
the man waited, and, as he said he could
make omelets, I let him in. We lived
happily together. Even the neighbors,
whose husbands, they claimed, had
not come in boxes,
eventually welcomed him.

We'd adopted an IRA, painted
the house, and proposed
a brown-eyed girl to the board,
when my dreams began
leaving clothes on the floor.
Strange underwear accumulated in my drawer—
and socks with suggestive messages sewn in
from people I'd never met.
Who is Bridget? said my husband.
That was easy enough. Who
are Bobo and Al?
That was harder;
and who could explain the pile
of red boxers in the corner?

"They're for you," I tried.
Wrong style, wrong color. . .
"For a change," I cried.
Wrong size! "You
never make omelets," I said.
Whose are they? he said. "You
were pre-assembled," I said.
You are my wife, he said. "But
you came in a box," I said.

It was a stand-off. Only the omelets,
finally making themselves in the kitchen,
could intervene. We set the table,
lit the candles, invited the neighbors for dinner.
"It was my childhood," I said.
Yes, he said. "Back then,
the dogs loved us," I said.
Oh yes, he said. "The birds flashed,
and the water shone like foil."
I understand, he said; and we saved
some of the eggs for later, to be eaten slowly,
with the lights dimmed and the music low.

 

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