Jul/Aug 2005 Poetry

Self-Interrogation of a Third Wife

by Arlene Ang

Self-Interrogation of a Third Wife

The dump truck comes at five o'clock: a shot
of light through blinds, the spider web blanched white.
His empty side is lined with cards; the deal—
three aces in a row. Do personal
effects include a dear-jane note, some pens,
a patch of sealing wax? His things are here

inside a box; he's left for good. But here
the bed's unmade, the glass ring from his shot
of rum still stains the wood, correction pens
went missing for sometime, their circles white
around concise instructions on personal
bank loans and bonds from months ago. I deal

another card—the six of hearts: a deal
of trouble from a man, defeat. I'm here
like a crushed can of beer. It's personal,
they say, this sense of loss, his parting shot
a mere perhaps we'll meet again, no white
lies or last drinks or warm exchange of pens.

Each night I jump sheep in and out of pens,
a sleepless garbage hauler who must deal
with unrecyclables: old debts, his white
shirts with the cut-off sleeves, a cigar here,
a bracelet there, some keys, the rifle shot
that punctured our backdoor, his personal

ID's linked snugly with my personal
expenses bills. It's love, my mother pens
days after he had gone, you need a shot
of slow-boiled chicken soup to help you deal
with grief, that's all. You're always welcome here.

The dump truck rumbles on crazed wheels, a white

remembrance of his altar smile, and white
the roses in my hands: did personal
vows mean the path's not straight, we're only here
for coffee and false courage signed with pens?

The rest is silence like a business deal
or fish gone wrong. His pillowcase is shot

with blue and white, the stripes like errant pens
impersonal as tables in plain deal.
Yes, I was here that same night he got shot.


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