My Life Had Stood

Siobhan Phillips

You loathe good poems in pain
like this. On a torn
pad near to-do lists
of to-do lists burst drafts of scorn
for how much is meta-
phoric, now. You open bills
with a knife and sniff out
milk gone bad and pick at the callous
padding your ring-lorn
hand. You know
but don’t know how
it will go down in time, which doesn’t
last or ease. Nor does the self
in the daft phrase
self-care, you warn
the barber planning to feather your hair
with razors. Not
of course out loud; you’re versed in ways
to please; you sit and hold a pot
of wax and ask
of horses, guns. The latter his favorite
task—created piece by mail-order
piece. Price
never falls; a better investment, he says,
than stocks or gold.
In the mirror you’re old.
And after all, what was it to be
a wife? A ruse
of existence? A gimmick
or fact of art? That is, for real
or all for show?
You want to know.
He shakes his head
as if only one forsaken would pose
so dumb a thought. It’s safest not
to even imagine
a fake, he explains.
When you shoot, you aim.