Her life was spent in deference to his comfort.
The rocking chair was his, the window seat,
the firm side of the mattress.
Hers were the midnights with sickly children,
pickups after guests left, the single
misery of childbirth. She had duties:
to feed him and to follow and to forgive his few
excesses. Sometimes he drank, he puffed cigars,
he belched, he brought the money in
and brought Belleek and Waterford for birthdays,
rings and rare scents for Christmas; twice he sent
a card with flowers: “All my love, always.”
At night she spread herself like linen out
for him to take his feastly pleasures in
and liked it well enough, or said she did, day in
day out. For thirty years they agreed on this
till one night after dinner dancing,
he died a gassy death at fifty-turned
a quiet purple in his chair, quit breathing.
She grieved him with a real grief for she missed him
sorely. After six months of that, she felt relieved.
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