FIRST NIGHT AS A WIDOW
I hear the night sounds, creaks and moans of this worn
house, the muffled neighbors’ voices. A sudden noise?
Now I’m the one who must go down and see. He did
do that. He also paid the bills—Melissa’ll show me how.
Will I miss having someone here when I come home,
the sound of his sleep breathing? How about his rages,
calling me “stupid as a box of rocks”? He was right,
a smarter woman would have left him years ago.
I can do what I want now, whether work or church
or catch a sale. I can turn vegetarian, no need to make
a meal “worthy of a man” as he screamed at me one night—
I’d made a salad, baked some salmon. Laundry, I can let go;
no fear of being called a whore because his socks are dirty;
no one saying I’m worthless, even at the job of wife.
from Rattle #70, Winter 2020
E. Laura Golberg: “How do you write about the end of an unspeakable marriage, about a woman who has been damaged daily for decades? I took images from everyday existence—cooking, washing—and put them together to form the story of a life.” ( web)