years ago, when I was writing poetry as part of my mfa studies, I mentioned to a classmate that my 1st wife was paranoid schizophrenic. she said, "wow, that's gotta be a dynamite source of writing!" and that's when I realized that I'd never written anything about that period. this poem grew out of that.
When everything else fails you, you can still
believe in bread. She is anchored in lime jell-o
in the kitchen. His suits litter the pantry,
his books are their plates. Sex is sliding on ice,
only with her legs spread. When he pries
at her with meat-thick fingers, she feels too much,
too much. She always has wool on. She pounds
the dough. Her fist goes through the table
and clanks on the floor. The bread, why not,
can be a doughnut.
Did he ever love her?
Might as well ask if she was ever pregnant. Depends.
Or was it the slant of light? Well. The oven's on,
and bread is bread and not doughnuts. He reads,
oblivious to bread, to doughnuts. She grabs a knife
and a chair. She faces the chair backwards,
at the kitchen door. She kneels naked on it.
She balances the knife along the top of the chair,
its handle blunt against the door. She props the tip
just above her navel. Metal and skin are a finger
and water. This is the question:
Will he open the door first, or will I stand up?
Minutes pass. The blade
mirrors her: the tense lips, eyes hidden in her hair,
teeth monstrous and full.
He goes on reading. She has to pee.
The knife clatters. That sound
and the smell of burning bread bring him to the door.