Prime Number Magazine
is a publication of 
Press 53
PO Box 30314,
Winston-Salem NC 27130
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Issue 61, October-December  2014
Prime Number Magazine is a publication of Press 53, PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130
A Marriage from Six Angles
by Elizabeth Drewry

Third Place: Poetry

1. Housekeeping   

In our house, towels hang straight;  
forks in their slots face east.

Precision of lunch, no meandering
all afternoon, cheese to apples—

Yet I find myself wistful for abandonment 
of principle. Here’s an invitation to disorder:  

not of mind, for I’m dazzled by logic,
not of spirit, I’m stunned by simplicity--

not even of body, each flyaway tendril
takes its place under his smoothing hand.  

What calls me to chaos is the heart,
wild in its yearning to be broken, tamed,

freed, all at once, in a sudden sweep
the way an arm displaces tidy treasures

to make room for something greater
and more precious.  

So I made space for him 
in the jumble cleared of regret. 

2. More

My husband has no taste for kisses 
that wander all over, not getting to the point.  
Candlelight’s wasted, Cole Porter, 
artful dip in my neckline. He teases 

my left frontal lobe, digging deep 
for tender places he might have missed.
He is avid for my mind, rapacious 
for a look down my cerebellum. 

Tonight I squirm in the scrutiny 
of his logic. His eye is bright, voice firm--
I think of a laser, marking papers 
of whitest white to fold into fractals.  

And it’s here we connect, 
in the skein of a leaf, crystalline quartz, 
Pollock’s self-similar brush--
those meeting places of math and art.

I would have him no other way,
quizzical arch of brow, questing eye.
He wants more than most, 
taking more to be satisfied.

3. In the Same Day’s Travel

Death Valley and Mount Whitney, 
low and high, hot and cold-- 
my husband is pleased by symmetry. 

I think of our tracks--
his, angled to an hypotenuse with perfect catheti.  
Mine, a scrabble of loose shale.  

For me, the shortest distance 
between two points includes a detour 
to see dinosaur bones. 

My choices have internal logic 
especially if viewed from a point 
in outer space. Mazes come to mind.  

Water swirls, I tell him, maple seed pods
and vigorous conversation. He’d like to waltz
with me in a perfect circle. 

I’m game but the floor tilts. My inner ear 
requires a rigorous balance
not this vertiginous romance.  

4. Something New

In my second half-century, and surprised
to learn it’s good to take a divot, 
that clod of grass and dirt flying up 
simply a way to check the swing.

He reads it like a tracker to know
why he slices, why pitches 
scull into sand. No divots when shooting
a high, soft flop shot. 

I watch him practice in the den. 
He explains it all to me, 
the person who has no perception 
of objects in space. The surprise is 

how deeply I care, soak it up 
as if the library of Alexandria 
had been unearthed and opened to me.  
His face is illuminated like a text

explicating the mysteries of joy,  
so I strain to see the graphs
he draws in air, the angles he creates
with his arms and imaginary club.

5. Mathematics of a Late Marriage

Define irrational. I dream a table,
after dinner. My husband clears an ellipse
of yellow light where we’ll sit with tea.  

It’s Tuesday. If there were children, 
a school night, when homework nullifies TV.  
Two is my imaginary number.

Our boy’s dark curls tessellate.  
Thick lashes cast an arc across his cheek, 
his wide lovely mouth worries a pencil. 

In his sister, everything’s twinned,
though she is honey-haired—
an equation sublimely balanced.  

I can’t extrapolate from this. 
Define abundant
Is this the axiom of regret?

6. Code Blue

My husband centers 
the over-bright room, centers
white-coated flurry so precise
it seems slow motion.

Last night, he and I failed 
to mention the fear, each steeping 
in a private tisane of foreboding,

loathe to burden one another.
I touched a smudge 
of moth-wing on the sill
and thought nothing of brief lives.

Now his gown’s ripped navel to neck,
a fist buries the large-bore needle
in his belly. I see his pallor,

his smile for me alone,
and know our reticence 
was the moth’s wheeling 
the eye of the flame, 

and the silence, our longing
beyond words for the chance 
to say everything that matters.

Elizabeth Drewry’s poems have been published in various literary magazines, including Arkansas Review, Tiferet, Kakalak, Broad River Review, and Yemassee. She was a finalist for the Joy Harjo 2012 Poetry Competition, runner-up for the 2013 Pocataligo Poetry contest, and finalist for the 2013 Ron Rash Poetry Award. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. After a newspaper management career in New York and California, she now lives and writes in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains.