Post 652 - Bill Meissner is the Director of Creative Writing at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota and the author of seven books. His writing has appeared in more than 200 journals, magazines and anthologies. His numerous awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, a Loft-McKnight Award in Poetry, a Loft-McKnight Award of Distinction in Fiction, a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, a Jerome Foundation Fellowship, and five PEN/NEA Syndicated Fiction Awards. He's one of my favorite poets.
The Contortionist’s Wife.
She knows him, yet she doesn’t always recognize him -
some mornings she finds him in the kitchen cupboard
flattened among the cereal boxes,
some evenings, he’s folded beneath her chair
when she sits down for dinner.
Once he surprised her when he rose from the washing machine tub
like a genie, gave her three wishes
and a box of Cheer.
Some days she doesn’t know if he’s shaping himself
or if she’s shaping him. All she knows is the way
he twists her emotions: he makes her laugh, he makes her cry.
She’s not sure if it’s funny that he
could be lying between the sheets of her bed without her
Some times he’s closer to her than she ever imagined, like the
tub full of warm bath water she slides herself into.
Sometimes he’s distant, pinpricks of stars in the night sky.
But most often he’s both near and far, lifting himself
from the vase in the corner, his smile full of flowers.
Ah, she wishes she could be a contortionist, too.
She wishes she could be the one to surprise him
some morning, disguising herself as the wheat bread
popping from the toaster
or the coat rack as he reaches for his jacket.
She gazes at her stiff flesh with the brittle bones inside,
thinking if only she could slip herself around his finger
like a ring he didn’t know he was wearing
for the rest of his life.