Kelley White: “The Discrete Wife of Calamity”

The Discrete Wife of Calamity
lives with four dogs. Bruno, Brutus, Bluto
and the Boy. The Boy is not a puppy. None
of her boy friends are young pups. Only
the painting of a blue and white mastiff
on the wall has dignity and wisdom. She’ll
build a fence when she leaves him. Invisible.
In ground. Electric. Like the chair that fried,
was it Sacco & Vanzetti? Yellow Mama.
Texas? Boston? Or the last woman put to death.
Here. Her car used to park in snowbanks. Icicles
Through the sun roof. The yellow convertible
never made it off blocks. Like her brown hair
yellowing with age. Pretty woman. The way her eyes
reflect the sound of rain. Her dogs surround
her essence of fulfillment. Madame. Madam
moseil, Paray vous? Down on the farm.
A pretty cup. Ewer. Olla. Sheep’s milk. Cheese.
She set her ass in the butter tub. Licking his
fingers. On her knees. His knees. Some
body’s knees. Oh, the slap of a blue black
bruise, the sting of his cheek on her palm.
That fine reproduction secretary he built
spins out its drawers, rolls back its top to tip her
inside. She locks herself in with some poet’s book.
Poet? Of butter, melting in her mouth.



Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her recent books are TOXIC ENVIRONMENT (Boston Poet Press) and TWO BIRDS IN FLAME (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

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