The Poet’s Wife

Michael Ranney

Michael Ranney

The poet favors shabby clothes,
a vest strained with wrinkles,
corduroy pants and
long-sleeved checkered shirt
to complement his ragged graying beard.
Beside him she knows she looks elegant,
velvetly styled,
never wondering what image they make
sheltered beside each other.
When he reads she watches
from the second row,
seated sideways to scan his audience,
to assist their responses,
the snickers, groans and sighs,
knowing the lines that cause the sounds
she's heard them so often before.
He's writing all the time,
even during their nights in bed,
eyes spinning behind closed lids,
poems gathering like holiday families
inside his still silent head.
She loves him for his words,
for all the songs he sings,
for the way his lines wrap her around
like the arms and legs of making love,
for the way he touches her
his fingers never leaving the page.
Later wall leaning she watches him
work the celebratory crowd,
index finger extended
from wine cupping right hand,
holding forth on meter and tropes
for the knot of women who listen.
Finally tired she nods once
and his observing eyes
rise against his brows.
Outside the ivied college building
she soundlessly finds his hand
to feel the man again
behind the clothes,
beneath the words.
Hands entwined and legs in rhythm
they drift away laughing together
into the well known texture of their life.

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