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 want a wife, the famous feminist wrote, a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when 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.
From The Carrying by Ada Limón (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Ada Limón. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions. milkweed.org
Ada Limón (1976- ) is the author of five poetry collections, including The Carrying (Milkweed Editions, 2018), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry, she serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency MFA program and lives in Lexington, Kentucky.