Maggie Nerz Iribarne: “Former”


Pressing his black trousers again, the steam hisses and sputters. I smooth out the faint lines, push in a crease. The children, who watch me from their framed faces lining the walls, are at school. In another frame- our holiday group shot-the five of us standing beneath looping words: Merry Christmas from the Phillips Family, the children are decked out in holiday greens and reds. My husband and I wear off tones. He dons a purple sweater with his black slacks, “Because it’s technically Advent,” he said at the time.  For no good reason, I wear a butter yellow turtleneck. I fade into background, like an unlit candle

I shift the trousers from the ironing board to my husband’s side of the closet. They line up in smooth order, a sight I know will give him pleasure, provoke a peck on the cheek while I wash dishes. 

He wears the black trousers always, whether at the office or mowing the lawn. He refuses the khakis, jeans, and corduroys I bought him at the beginning. They stay neatly folded in a stack on a shelf. He would never consider giving them away. “They were a gift from my wife,” he says, “it’s unthinkable.” 

I slide the rounded triangle of my iron across swathes of dark fabric, acquiescing to the encroaching memory – the first time he let go, pulled me in, my bottom meeting his black lap, my arms and legs wrapping around his chaste body.  

“Slut,” that’s what the parishioners called me. 

“Savior,” is what my husband said, just that first time. 

I work the last pair of his black trousers, repetitive motions across the flat surface, attempting to tease out that final stubborn wrinkle. 

Maggie Nerz Iribarne is 53, living her writing dream in a yellow house in Syracuse, New York. She writes about witches, dys/functional relationships, small disappointments/pleasures, the very old, bats/cats, priests/nuns, cleaning ladies, runaways, struggling teachers, neighborhood ghosts, and other things. She keeps a portfolio of her published work at

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