“After the Affair” by Karen Benke

Karen Benke


Each day he left our shallow bed at sunrise.
All that remained: the black snake lie.
Yes, he remembered his watch, the cream for his coffee.
He unloaded the dishwasher, carried the recycling to the curb.
How can you say I’m not here for you?
The house creaked quiet.
The woman who was me curled under the stiff sheet of another day.
His car accelerated up the driveway.
On my side of the whale-huge bed, the woman remained.
Jays squawked. The cat cried for food.
The child watched another cartoon.
Walking to meet the carpool, I explained
1+2=3. And two plus one also equals three.
The child held my hand. Don’t cry, Mommy.
Afterward, I kept my eyes open to see underneath
the lies the woman who was me could no longer keep—
The bite reached flesh, bone, heart, head.

from Rattle #67, Spring 2020
Students of Kim Addonizio


Karen Benke: “I studied with Kim Addonizio in 1993 while pursuing my master’s degree at the University of San Francisco. Kim is generous, tender, tough, and accurate with her honesty. She made a better poet out of me by her example, by all the detailed ways she shows up to see and capture the world’s heartbreak and grit. She taught me how to rigorously question if what is being included in the container of a poem is truly necessary. As I edit, I can still hear her say, ‘Here’s a needless piece of information.’” (web)

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