The Author’s Wife
John Oliver Hodges

Under the bed or tucked in a nook
Was the dog-eared book, a real mutt
Of a book, pulpy gray and swollen
Part story, part poem with a kicked
Look, a dog from the street given steak
And clean sheets to wallow in, sweet
Fingers to lick in the room at the end
Of the hall where Mother slept alone
Those years after the divorce, her dirty
Mutt beside her muttering soft tales
Of girls in filigree with porcelain feet
Alone in copses or traveling far places
By train ’tween well-dressed men with
Coins for a gander at corset laces, the
Girl in the copse besieged by rogues or
Pulled from a closet and spanked by
Father, endlessly pierced and fettered and
Groaning, see her suckle her teacher
In the gloaming—Ah, ’twas my father
Who taught her the difference was
Nil, ’tween Daddy and Husband, him who
Plucked her from the desk she sat in
Another freshman with porcelain teats
He taught her the difference was nil
Ran fingers through her fur and fed her
Treats, took her to faraway places and
Petted her and milked her, dressed
Her in lace and of Great Men wrote book
After book—Of animals she thought
Not much, especially the loathsome
Cur, but the mutt at her bedside, when
They were gone, comforted her.

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