What It Was about that First Marriage

The floors were fine. Gorgeous,

in fact. Blond as sunshine, clean,

polished, alive with the kind of promise

we had dreamed. But oh those two

mismatched tables. Same height,

so we kept trying to line them up

as if they were a unit. One was maple,

right out of somebody’s 1950s Nebraska kitchen, with a scalloped leaf that folded down,

though it was years before we saw it

for what it was. The other, streamlined,

sleek. Once we tried pushing them together

and covering both with a patterned cloth, though dinner guests kept banging their knees. When I look back, I’m amazed

we didn’t toss it, haul it to the curb.

But, no, we struggled for years

to make it work, painting,

and painting again, turning it sideways.

— Dannye Romine Powell

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