This Happened

A woman in her forties framed by the doorway
between the kitchen and the garage wearing a rose negligee,
a fleece jacket, and split ends; she holds her purse open,
one fist tight around a set of keys. She spent all morning
searching, digging in couch folds, sweeping the counters,
smoothing the furrow between her brow.

Her husband lies beneath the belly of their SUV,
denim legs and navy slippers sprawled under the rear
fender, muttering, clanging tools against hard concrete
like sounding a bell. How long did she stand there, backlit
by their Tiffany pear lamp, waiting? When she opened the driver’s door
and crawled inside, she couldn’t see the dark rinse jeans and
yellow laces, couldn’t see her husband there, but knew.

When she started the car, what did he think?
Did his lips tremble when the brake lights blinked off
their beady red glare? In Marlton, New Jersey, a woman
ran over her husband — twice. In a brick townhouse
across the street, a girl pulled back the curtains
to sirens and stains down the driveway, a starched

blue uniform slapping handcuffs across thin wrists,
and she witnessed in the woman falling to her knees
the heavy sadness of spending days submerged, finding
nothing, hard-plucked and cut-dried, those women
whose sadness could break the backs of men.

Rachel Lake

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