Poem of the Week: “Wife” by Ada Limón

This week’s poem was chosen by Assistant to the Director, Estee Schlenner. “When I first read this poem it stayed with me for a long time after. The way Limón writes so honestly about marriage is admirable, and the ending is just stunning.”

Wife

I’m not yet comfortable with the word,
its short clean woosh that sounds like
life. At dinner last night my single girls
said in admonition, “It’s not wife-approved”
about a friend’s upcoming trip. Their
eyes rolled up and over and out their
pretty young heads. Wife, why does it
sound like a job? “I need a wife” the famous
feminist wrote, “a wife that will keep my
clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced
if need be.” A word that could be made
easily into maid. A wife that does, fixes
soothes, honors, obeys, Housewife,
fishwife, bad wife, good wife, what’s
the word for someone who stares long
into the morning, unable to even fix tea
some days, the kettle steaming over
loud like a train whistle, she who cries
in the mornings, she who tears a hole
in the earth and cannot stop grieving,
the one who wants to love you, but often
isn’t good at even that, the one who
doesn’t want to be diminished
by how much she wants to be yours.
 

Ada Limón, “Wife” from The Carrying.  Copyright © 2018 by Ada Limón.  Reprinted by permission of Milkweed Editions.

Published by cpoetrymsu

The Center for Poetry opened in the fall of 2007 to encourage the reading, writing, and discussion of poetry and to create an awareness of the place and power of poetry in our everyday lives. We think about this in a number of ways, including through readings, shows, community outreach, and workshops. We are at work building a poetry community at MSU and in the greater Lansing area. Contact: cpoetry@msu.edu (517) 884-1932 http://www.poetry.rcah.msu.edu

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