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My Husband's Wife
Dawn Zapletal's poetry
I’m Richard’s wife, but we live in his first wife’s house. Well, really it’s our house now. It’s quite a lovely house and beautifully furnished.
She had excellent taste, but not the same as mine. Richard might think it rude if I changed anything, so I won’t, not just yet.
It’s curious, but I don’t feel creepy about making love in the bed where they made love. Richard’s a good, if a somewhat methodical, lover. I wonder if he compares me to his first wife. I don’t think I could ask him.
I’ve only seen one photograph of Cynthia. She was lovely, with a cool, pale blond beauty. She and I are very different. My hair is sandy, my eyes an ordinary brown and I’m not at all beautiful. I thought, at forty, my chances of getting married were slim to none. I don’t really know what Richard sees in me.
Cynthia played the grand piano that dominates the living room. She knew a lot about Art, Music and the Theatre. Though I enjoy going to museums I can’t tell a Monet from a Manet and Opera bores me. One thing Richard and I have in common is reading, though his tastes run to history and science, and mine to biographies, Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. I guess compatibility is a matter of adaptability and patience. Sometimes I feel that I’ll have to do most of the adapting.
I felt quite awkward the first time I was introduced to Richard’s and Cynthia’s friends. They were very kind, but no one mentioned her. It’s complicated because they were not divorced, Cynthia died. I think he must have loved her very much.
It’s been eighteen months now and sometimes I miss my job at InfoBase, which is where I met Richard. He said there was no need for me to continue working that taking care of him and the house would be a full time job. He was right about that. My life now is quite different from the casual way I lived as a single woman. There’s no more gong around in raggedy rumpled jeans, tee shirt and scuffed running shoes, or throwing together slap-dash meals so I can go to the beach or jogging. And I’m still waiting for the dog Richard promised we’d get from the pound.
This morning I wanted to go for a drive in the country, the fall colors are at their best now, instead I stayed home and polished the silver. Richard’s very proud of this house and all the lovely things in it, and I want him to be proud of me.
I love Richard, and he says he loves me, but it isn’t easy being married, middle aged and a second wife. That’s why I’m sitting here in my spotless kitchen in the middle of the night, writing in my journal, instead of lying contently in bed beside my sleeping husband. I must write, so that I will know who I am.