First time we’ve met, her ex-lover boy and I, seated together,
both of them long settled in other beds. She’s in the kitchen:
thin hands, bumpy knuckle bones of the dancer she once was,
picking over halibut chunks, squid, mussel flesh,
whatever she fancies, crab meat last. In Barnegat,
my first time out, the traps rattled with blue crabs
hooking the cage, clawing themselves—the sea rang
like her pots and pans and heirloom silverware.

I knew the story he didn’t tell, about their young affair.
Unfinished images: heavy-muscled braid to her waist, leggy,
toe shoes pegging their marks, finding in that body in the mirror
the desired line. On the water, I knew the sun pressing my back
would hurt, and she later said that while the Love God and I jawed,
the new wife dropped by the kitchen. “I came to greet the help.
I like your new head”—girlish braid razor-cut to salt-and-pepper cap.
“We want to seem our age but never really look it, right?”

I see her in her prime, before the injury, soaking rehearsal tights,
tulle, or Daisy Mae jeans, steaming windows to nail a combination.
“He was the world’s weirdest lover, never let me see him naked.
I wonder how Wonder Girl handles that.” She’s stirring rice now,
muscles seaming her forearm—a lifted shoulder tugs the apron string
tighter to her neck. “He had to be first in bed, before I came in,
undercover man, room totally dark.” The crabs
are in the kitchen in their traps, any motion she made died
in the moment it danced through, we’re famished, here because
we want more of more, and now she’s bringing the goods.
W. S. Di Piero

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 25 Number 3, on page 31
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