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.
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.
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.