Marriage: Six Primers

1. Hole in the eye

When she hears his father’s accent she learns
what he suppressed. He sees in her mother’s hallway
the décor she hates. Between them, a balance
scale weighted MOTHER FATHER YOU ME
–the loads shifting image by image.
A mother left in the car.
The father’s bottom teeth.
And the small deductions–yearbook photos,
hidden cigarettes, names said dreaming;
his taste, the pills sent from home–
  As if a sailor squinted for land so long
the sun burned holes in his eyes;
standing at the door, he jerks his head
this way and that just to see it sidelong …

2. The shuttle

Lover and beloved.
  Who carries the most desire?

Better to ask who eats the apple,
  the pig or the family roasting it–

Or ask the two woodsmen
  on the shuttle toy

chopping the wood they’re made of;
  or the samurai and geisha

pumping mechanically–a perfect fit–
  cock and cunt sliced from one stone.

3. e per se mueve

Rising from the altar of promises, he sees
  a tearful lover in the church. She cries

in relief; he feels it as grief. And though
  kissing his bride, he silently swears, like Galileo

telling the judges yes, my Earth
  anchors the universe–

and yet (rising from
  below) she moves all the same.

4. Duet of days

She: After this many years, I test positive! Week eight–
He: You–that makes it mid-March: I was gone that month.


She: … so Jeff was in town then, we drank a lot and …
He: So call him up: that’s his kid, not mine–


She: These condoms in your carry-on–Who did you bang that trip?
He: … I never meant to hurt you. But she and I were smoking dope …


–On Thanksgiving they learn the baby began on Valentine’s;
they teach her numbers, the stars, and animal sounds.

5. I stand behind my contradictions


At first glance you were tall, tall! Birch
  yellow hair, piano fingers. And short a dime.
I felt something in my pocket, handed you
  ten thoughts (of bed). We split
a pizza, then split from everyone–
  our lovesick summer, bedridden as invalids.
Now the doctor shows me my sperm–
  “Too many pinheads” (the doctor,

trained in mechanical reproduction).
  Yet here he is, our shining boy …
A swallowed dime could kill him.
  When his chin shakes with cold

I start to sweat. And when
  the homeboys gather, you moon them
(behind curtains), sing “Vertigo”
  to the tune of Camelot

charms and dangers to spell our home.

6. Dice

They fit snug sleeping, their nipples make dots
  on dots. Blockheads, but the sum of our parts.

All day they bump each other around,
  two faces avoiding the one fate. Suddenly thrown

for a loss: snake eyes. Shaken to their bones, rubbed
  and pleaded with, tumbling through

a glitter of choices–till their number’s up,
  and the raker finds the die.