Chana Bloch

The Discipline of Marriage

My mother said what she thought.  
If my father looked up from the paper to inquire   			 
where the hell anyone would get such a dumb idea, 
she'd reply, with a smile like a warning: 
“That's how I feel.”  

Her feelings were larger than his,
full of grievance, of steaming griefs.      
She hung up her keys at the door  
and salted the daily stew. 			 	 

All day my father depleted his poor stock of words.
Evenings he shrank and fell silent.  
The discipline of marriage had taught him 
every last thing he knew about silence    	       			 
and its rewards. After supper, he'd shut his eyes, 		 
park his feet on the hassock and kiss				 
the evening goodbye.				 

My mother applied glittery blue to her eyelids.  
Crystal bottles commanded her dressing table  		 
with their flags of milky glass;		
the French perfumes glowed like topaz. 	
She had plenty to say. She wanted him 
to listen, to say something back! Open 
his eyes for once and see her!  
Her beaded purse! Her alligator shoes!