Volume 26, Number 2

Half a Couple

I do the best I can.

Corduroy slippers, and an after-dinner drink.
A housecoat, and pajama pants.

Small talk demands more agility
Than ordinary people imagine,
And my wife is not ordinary, and she imagines agility:

Which is why there are between us at times great,
Waving silences: silences for which I am
Grateful. Grateful to the extent
That I can imagine what grateful might be. I do

The best I can. An hour or two
Of the video screen passes while the simpler
Staff clear away the dinner’s making
And unmaking, then quietly put themselves
For the night into recharge. Shortly,

At so many clock ticks past my third ambience drink,
And at the termination of the video event she
Wanted to sit too late awake through, she will
Select the program she desires me
To execute tonight—though many nights
Of late it has been no program

At all—and I simply gather into bed,
Mated metal beside her. I run,
Without prompting or reset, my
Upper spare arm gently along the rise
Of her side, while ejecting a random night’s
Salutation: I expect no response. And then
I without reminding simply shut myself off.

I think I might be getting good at this.

—Ken Poyner