“Husbands Are Deadlier Than Terrorists”by Laura Solomon
Your cat pees on the futon that belonged to your wife’s dead ex-husband,
The one he left with her when she left him, that left behind—like so many things—a pang
Whenever the thing, in this case the futon, would become for a moment its story.
So she starts grumbling about how the cats have ruined everything (the couch, the bed),
Around for another feeling with which to replace the first, a feeling made of steel.
She loses her patience so you lose yours. It is two o’clock in the morning
& even though you get it, even though you love her, you know you’ll lie awake until
& it irritates you to think of her asleep while you’re up all night on your phone, reading
more about the ex-husband
In Plano, Texas, who shot his wife & seven of her friends last week, about the classes of
Used to make the weapons with which humans most often murder one another. You think
about the pang
A body must feel
When the bullet rips away its life & ends the story
Of the person who was inside the body. You see a tweet about another shooting, a police
shooting, the story
Is still unfolding. You witness a person forced to leave their gender-nonconforming body.
They howl in pain.
The stories go on until morning
Or until they end, which they never do. By dawn, you get the feeling
That you were lucky to have been battered by your Italian ex-husband
As opposed to an American one, who would have been more likely to have owned a gun,
but the old pangs
Return to the left side of your skull where his knuckles left knots nearly a decade ago &
Yourself for the blow that is coming that already came & then for the remainder of the
insomniacal night ahead, steel
Yourself for tomorrow too, a Monday, & the workplace where you aren’t allowed to have a
Like the one you have. Where you put up with shit you’d never have put up with had you
never been hit. More pangs.
But you wouldn’t have met her—something you say to yourself because it’s true. Morning
Comes & she’s sorry you haven’t slept & now you are her husband
Again & she is yours & the cat pee & the futon belong to the night, far behind you now, &
She didn’t want to feel can finally be felt without feeling
As if it can’t be handled, as if it were happening all over & she has to steel
Herself for the call that is coming in the middle of the night—her ex-husband
Who was your friend before you became hers & the story
Grew ever more complicated by morning.
Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the pangs
By which our stories have been stitched together, as our pangs
Put on wigs, change their clothes & their lives behind curtains of feeling.
We have been through something we are going through. I remember all the mornings
Before we were ours, when we first began to report to each other our dreams, and how the
Skyscraper constructed in her sleep had revealed to her the architecture of Steve’s story,
How he had entered & exited her own, & yet remained—her husband
& my husband lingering pang-like among the husbands
& how the sun shone through the windows on the morning of our story
& what we felt like, feeling its steel.
Laura Solomon is the author of three books of poetry, most recently The Hermit from Ugly Duckling Press, and two works of translation. Over the years, she’s worked with a number of literary journals and small presses, including Verse and Verse Press (now Wave Books), the early online journal castagraf (which she ran from 2002–2005), and the Georgia Review. She and her partner Jenny Gropp were recently named the new executive directors of Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee.