mary complex

we talk about
like the big sale at walmart, or candy
in the checkout line, tucked
between the shoe polish and cosmo magazine.

it feels like a prize, to be
kept close to you, white spill of
satin purity. but
later it will become a gift, a piece of
offered to someone else.

and afterwards, the magdalenes, muttering
words like born again --
as though it were merely
borrowed, kept in his pocket until you
need it back.

which is why, i guess, you
always keep the receipt.

you say, i don't know how it happened --
you say, why me?
you say, i don't understand,

and you'll break the news to him
while you're kneeling between his legs.

five years later you'll still be pretending
you love him,
that he's at the office like he said. you'll
be watching mtv, not
waiting for anything
but your soap operas.

i'll drive the kids
home one day, stop
for some coffee and smalltalk.

--of course i'm happy, you say;

but your eyes skitter away
towards yesterday's dishes.

and for a moment
i'll think i see
something gleaming on your chest,
some white tatter of that satin. the dream
that might have been,
if only you had held

a little bit tighter.