The Hair Wreath

Each paying half by agreement,
we saved it from the junkstore window:
blonde and auburn with a shock of brunette,
and spangled with paste-pearl daisies,
a Victorian braid of domestic madness,
tight, and thankfully not our fashion.
Now our bad taste makes it twice a relic.
It’s another us undivided, forgotten
like a maverick mine in a once-strategic bay.
Did you pack it here “on purpose” or did I?
I used to die against such useless questions.
I lift it from the box now, careful of pins.
What boors we were! boring each other,
making that resolve not to go to bed angry.
And you, claiming all was desire and object,
my fear of your mind, sure as a stiff prick.
What does one say? We’d imagined
three dead sisters sitting nightly at vanities,
the hundred magic strokes from their brushes
curling in the casket with older locks;
and their three vested suitors
exchanging cards, whores’ addresses,
chatting on empire at tea. Very clubbable.
We were hardly so vivid with ourselves.
You claimed all my touch was only token.
And, much later, we made a truce of the thought
of how much we are alike. Fingering the strands,
I see you rolling us a smoke, my best editor,
pointing to the dry patch on your back
you can’t reach with oil. This wreath.
I’ve dismantled it a hundred times.

–From With Your Back to Half the Day