The First Husband Buried

Tana Jean Welch

After eight years of empty threats,
all I can do is watch him study the high
lamp over our bed, his mind knitting
a noose from ties he never wore. He tells
me he’s never been good at anything.
He tells me he’s sorry he has to leave.
I start to give my opinion on the mode
at which he will arrive at death.
I tell him the lamp is not strong enough
to hold his weight. He begins a fad diet.
I tell him a widow who finds her husband
in dead sleep will fare better than the one
who finds her spouse’s brain scattered
about the room, slivers of skull cleaving
to their wedding photo. I suggest pills, but
he says poison lacks drama, so I put
in a motion for a public performance,
a place where someone else will find his corpse.
If you must, I tell him, you must.
I start to see myself single.
I learn French. I run for office.
I adopt children from all over the world.
I bury every minute of every day. I do
this because I must. Because the cliché
about the sinking ship carries more heft
than the fact that no one will be here to trim
the branches from the front tree. Let its arms
grow, grope their way over the window
to stave off the intruder, the sun.

Tana Jean Welch, a native Californian, currently exists in the humid plane of Tallahassee, where she is working toward a PhD in literature at Florida State University. Her poems have recently appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal and the Southern Review.

“The First Husband Buried” appears in our Autumn 2009 issue.