January 28, 2014

Linda A. Cronin

THE QUEEN STANDS ALONE

It began with such enthusiasm,
as it so often does.
You claimed to be a perfect pair,
the King and Queen of hearts,
or at least a pair of diamonds.
So anxious to play house,
you lied to steal weekends together.
So desperate to swear your love and devotion
to forsake all the others
you hadn’t had the chance to meet,
you refused to postpone the wedding,
despite his mother calling
it a funeral and yours
forecasting doom. And now,

just two years later,
you tell me some mornings
when you look at your husband,
stumbling out of bed, you see
only his insurance money.
We both know months, only weeks probably,
will pass, until you tell me
you’ve filed for divorce.
You’ve discovered comic books
and martial arts quickly lose steam
when confronted with car payments
and rent bills. Dinner doesn’t automatically
appear, and laundry needs to be folded.
Now, the love, the passion,
the determination to make it work
has vanished. Unlike the bridesmaid’s dress
swarming with unnaturally large,
pastel flowers and Scarlet O’Hara skirt,
still hanging in my closet.
The dress perfect
for an English Garden Party,
the one you swore
I’d wear again,
and I knew I never would.

I listen to your voice,
discouraged and uncertain.
Your dreams faded faster
than the carpet you chose together.
No stronger than the couch
your Labrador shredded.
I wonder not about love,
because you thought you had that,
but all the other ingredients
no one thinks about.
About the strength and patience
love needs to endure. About where,
in the tough times, you find
the faith to get you through,
to believe in tomorrow,
and I think maybe that’s the real
question we should all ask
ourselves and each other
before we ever swear I do.

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003