How to Have a Perfect Marriage

Her husband was no worse than an umbrella: useful
in bad weather but ungainly
at cocktail parties.

Or he was her purse: useful for carrying things
but more than once forgotten
when she left the house.

She fell in love with post office police sketches, the minor league mascot
and his oversized foam mustache.
Alexander Hamilton’s rumpled face, as she handed him over
to the Marshall’s cashier, made her heart rattle
like a pill bottle full of baby teeth.

She tried not to think of her red-faced dentist
or his latexed finger probing her rotten molars.
When pale Mormon boys knocked
on the door, she tuned the radio to the farm report and turned up the volume.

(If she had asked her husband,
he would have said that he was their TV remote: able to take
orders though a few of his buttons
had fallen off from overuse.)

Some days she drove around the mall parking lot, hoping to rear end
a fireman or a tax attorney on his day off, but all she got
was strange looks from teenage girls
who were the human approximation of corn stalks: straight
and silky haired and interchangeable.

One rainy afternoon, her husband had been sleeping
on the couch before dinner, and when she woke him
an imprint of his face was left
in the deep nap of the cushion: the brow and jaw
wider, the expression sulky as a lemon tree in December.

And while someone washed his hands and shuffled
off to the table, she sat there and ran her hand over that face,
gently, until it was gone.