This Chair He Left Behind
Broken down seams and hems, a collapsed arm
where his body plunked itself down.
Always falling asleep between the editorial page
and the classified ads.
He had ceased reading the funnies,
quit posting them on refrigerator doors and mirrors.
Nothing comic here anymore,
not even dark laughter.
That almost three years when he set no alarm,
when he had nowhere to go but that chair
surrounded by a strangled week’s worth
of the Lansing State Journal.
Shiny ads spewing around wooden legs.
Coupons that remained affixed, unclipped.
Foot-crushed Doritos bags oozing their orange.
Coke Zero liters with lost lids.
The last remainder of a husband
I want to pitch it in the trash heap.
Bury it in the compost pile beneath the eggshells.
Plant it in the shrubbery bed for bluejays to peck at.
Set it out for the curb pickers to devour.
But it’s too broken -
saggy-assed and sad
and reeks of cadaver memories
that could invade even a stranger’s nightmares.
When you called this morning
there was blood in your voice.
I finally asked him to leave, you tell me,
I found his password, found the emails,
found the affair. After fifteen minutes,
I stopped reading.
Twenty five years of marriage.
Twenty five years of marriage.
Over and over.
But I am remembering the jade plant at your southeast window,
the one he gifted you for your silver anniversary.
I ask if it is still alive,
and you tell me that you’ve driven your fingernails
through each pulpy leaf. That there is green moss
lodged beneath your nails. That no scrubbing
will remove the stain.
And you tell me of food you have pulverized in the blades
of the garbage disposal. How that hole devoured
an entire casserole of 80% lean ground beef and tater tots.
A container of guacamole still fresh with cilantro leaves and stems.
A crockpot roast beef with shreds of carrots clinging to the veiny cartilage.
A jar of hummus swirled with olive oil and pine nuts.
Your refrigerator is completely barren, void of food,
and you lick your fingers, devouring remnants of a cupboard now bare.
This feels good. A purging. I wish I knew some prayer from memory.
This occasion needs a supplication.
But there are no ritual words,
Only the grind of the disposal.
Marianne Peel taught English at middle and high school for 32 years. She is now retired, doing Field Instructor work for Michigan State University. She recently won 1st prize for poetry in the Spring 2016 Edition of the Gadfly Literary Magazine. She also won the Pete Edmonds Poetry Prize. In addition, Marianne has been published in Encodings: A Feminist Literary Journal;Write to Heal;Writing for Our Lives: Our Bodies—Hurts, Hungers, Healing; Mother Voices; Metropolitan Woman Magazine; Ophelia’s Mom; Jellyfish Whispers; Remembered Arts Journal. Marianne also received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal and Turkey. She is a flute playing vocalist, learning to play ukulele, who is raising four daughters. She shares her life with her partner Scott, whom she met in Istanbul while studying in Turkey. Marianne also taught teachers in Guizhou Province, China for three summers, and she also toured several provinces in China with the Valpraiso Symphony, playing both flute and piccolo, in January of 2016. Most recently, Marianne was invited to participate in Marge Piercy’s Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop in June 2016.