Two Wives

Less the hot oil
than the touch
of her close look woke Eros
to lamp light,
her polished wrists,
and back behind
the rim of light,
the stroke of her bent face.
He was full-seen,
spied upon in dreams of her,
and he was Love.

Through airy curtains
the young god fled,
revealed divinity,
without a backward look
at bed or staring girl,
who only asked
what anybody would,
and she was false.

Alcestis, later,
did not recall her burial:
the close air that enseamed her
like a wedding dress,
dirt veiling closed eyes, or the echoes
of his grateful second thoughts.

She returned with the look
of one who had traveled widely,
assumed a conjugal attitude
as one remembering the customs of her native land
imperfectly. She took up her duties
where she found them,
indifferent then.
She, whose maids once dreaded
her sharp eyes, never surprised the pantry
to count potatoes or weigh the honey,
and finally lost the storeroom key.