For My Wife | Poem by Wesley McNair

Psychologists must have a word for it, the phenomenon of shifting the focus of sadness from the source of that sadness to something else. Here’s a fine poem on this subject by Penelope Scambly Schott, who lives in Oregon.

A honeymoon. How often does one happen according to the dreams that preceded it? In this poem, Wesley McNair, a poet from Maine, describes a first night of marriage in a tawdry place. But all’s well that ends well.

For My Wife

How were we to know, leaving your two kids

behind in New Hampshire for our honeymoon

at twenty-one, that it was a trick of cheap

hotels in New York City to draw customers

like us inside by displaying a fancy lobby?

Arriving in our fourth-floor room, we found

a bed, a scarred bureau, and a bathroom door

with a cut on one side the exact shape

of the toilet bowl that was in its way

when I closed it. I opened and shut the door,

admiring the fit and despairing of it. You

discovered the initials of lovers carved

on the bureau’s top in a zigzag, breaking heart.

How wrong the place was to us then,

unable to see the portents of our future

that seem so clear now in the naiveté

of the arrangements we made, the hotel’s

disdain for those with little money,

the carving of pain and love. Yet in that room

we pulled the covers over ourselves and lay

our love down, and in this way began our unwise

and persistent and lucky life together.


 

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Penelope Scambly Schott, from her most recent book of poems, Crow Mercies, Calyx Books, 2010. Poem first appeared in Arroyo Literary Review, Vol. 2, Spring 2010. Reprinted by permission of Penelope Scambly Schott and the publishers. Introduction copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

More in Life

White River Valley Museum opens “Suffer for Beauty” exhibit

Corsets, bras, and bustles, oh my! The White River Valley Museum is hosting its new event, “Suffer for Beauty,” which is all about the changing ideals of female beauty through the ages. The exhibit runs through June 17.

Library’s art and writing contest returns to Pierce County | Pierce County Library System

Pierce County teens are encouraged to express themselves through writing, painting, drawing and more for the annual Our Own Expressions competition, hosted by the Pierce County Library System.

‘School of Awake’ offers advice to adolescent girls

Twinkle, twinkle. For as long as you can remember, you’ve known how… Continue reading

Mental health first aid training in Enumclaw | The Summit

Friday, January 19 at 7 p.m., Dr. Michelle Bengtson will kick off the mental health-themed weekend by speaking on Hope for Depression: The World’s Greatest Epidemic. Dr. Bengtson is the author of the award winning “Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression.”

Print 3-D creations at Pierce County Library System

Bring a ready-to-print file and watch the magic of 3-D printing bring the file to life at Pierce County Library System’s 3-D Print Shop. The free print shop sessions are offered January through March at Pierce County Libraries, giving people the opportunity to use the 3-D printers to create items, get quick design lessons, and learn the 3-D printing process.

The past is the past, a review of ‘Robicheaux’

You don’t want to talk about it. You’ve been through rough times,… Continue reading

What would MLK do? A review on ‘Dear Martin’

What if your entire future was mapped out for you? All you’d… Continue reading

Blaine Larsen returns home for Dec. 2 concert

Blaine Larsen doesn’t perform much these days, instead spending his waking hours pursuing a higher calling.

Get your fill of winter activities on Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier’s landscape undergoes a dramatic transformation in winter.

Most Read