had long ago passed into reality,
become the kind of desert fact bred
by dead metaphors. Like this: She paces, she
stubs her toe. She woke one day and felt no dread
at her husband’s naked body beneath her,
grey tufts, wind-scarred navel, an erection
once a week if they were lucky. The labor,
they couldn’t bear it. They’d weep. Their very skin
raised ramparts between them, left them separate
as spring’s first tithes. She pitied him, let him keep
a woman on the side. Now, unafraid
in this longed-for prayer, old age, they sleep.
Dreams of arid laughter overwhelm them,
conceiving promises they mean to fathom.
About the Poet
J.L. Wall’s poetry and essays have appeared in First Things, Modern Age, Kenyon Review Online, Atlanta Review, Arc Digital and Frontier Poetry, among others. He teaches first-year writing at the University of Michigan and has developed several online teaching guides for the National Yiddish Book Center. Currently, he’s at work on a book of criticism about genre and modernist poetry.