Beri is the funniest girl in the world.
Kathy’s been a little depressed.
Josie’s just gotten off work
counseling rapists and pedophiles,
and because it is still the March
of my thirty-third birthday,
we’re sitting on the patio of El Toro,
drinking grande margaritas on a Tuesday night,
discussing the elusive concept of sober sex
while our waiter runs the chips-and-salsa
relay so he doesn’t miss a word.
For Josie and me, newly single after a decade,
like planets slung off our axis,
and Kathy, of ruler-strict Catholic upbringing,
sex intrigues us like a foreign language.
But Beri, married for more than four years,
is having a hard time remembering sex at all,
its permutation of limbs, its wet rock and slide,
though she pretends and doesn’t know I see
she’s counting on her fingers under the table–
best I can figure, it was Christmas,
Charles’s tired stocking stuffer
offered up like a diamond necklace.
Josie says it takes three martinis
to forget the day’s fun accounts
of rodents and rectal thermometers.
Kathy needs five beers on an empty stomach
to get past god, his son, and the holy ghost,
and I’m thinking half a bottle
of a decent dry white, I’ll relax a little
about the popped balloons of my breasts,
the post-caesarian belly battle zone
my husband traded in for a twenty-year-old
with a moon-pie face and perky ta-tas.
The waiter smiles a young Spanish smile
that tells us he understands this English perfectly,
understands our need for extra sour cream,
and suddenly we’re appreciating the fit of his apron
over tight black jeans, the neon sombrero
glow washing over our enchiladas,
the low night rumble of practical sedans
burrowing back to the suburbs
like guilty fathers, and the clear constant moon,
with its gathering of all things oozing and flowing,
that keeps us glued together. We’ve fallen
silent as the empty fishbowls
in which swim our dreams of love
in dregs of salt and citrus when Kathy says,
You have to really trust a man to have sober sex.
MY BEST FRIEND MOVED 2000 MILES AWAY
Even my dogs hate me today,
that weasel-eyed Chihuahua
and the prissy Jack Russell,
their thick middle-aged growls
when I sat too close on the sofa.
And my three-year-old socked
me, smack in the nose. I almost
slapped her back, except it was my fault
she didn’t get her nap,
what with me lugging the vacuum
from room to room,
like something that couldn’t wait.
I don’t recognize myself anymore,
the magpie shrill of my voice,
the way the corners of my mouth
mop the floor. I can’t spare
the energy to smile, something
my husband just doesn’t get,
crooning Smile, like our sadistic
high school track coach. Apparently,
he doesn’t like me much either,
my spouse, and neither
do the two teenaged daughters,
who brandish unfeasible schedules
as I shoot daggers
at their renegade belly buttons.
It’s a civil war, alright:
Who will empty the dishwasher;
who should buy the K-Y?
And all the while, they’re,
all of them, tossing dead herrings
of socks and panties into a pile
that blocks the sun.