The Ancient Modern
The Writer’s Wife / Joshua Alan Sturgill
She reads carefully, scoffs, and says he’s lying.
Because the words within the book can’t be her lover’s.
From him, she hears wordless acknowledgements, or brief
statements about household doings, or nothing.
The sensual hope left long ago, accidentally packed up
in a box of donations bound for the thrift store.
She expected gifts. She expected exclusivity. After
the dress was returned to its long plastic sleeve,
and the flowers thrown out with the garbage
and the ceremony caught and caged in a pewter frame,
she expected no surprises. But here, spread out on
countless pages for strangers she will never meet:
these graphic, intimate, tender words. She feels betrayed,
and yet there is no crime. Only a print confession.
But it wasn’t whispered to her, never heard it, though
the mouth that offered it sleeps close. She smells
that murky breath in the dark alone, while others
hear a kind of perfume, rising soundless and joyful
from pages she once might have loved to read.