Good woman

“…the night bus took me with it
and I am glad to be going” ~ D. Bonta

When we got married (a first for him,
the second time for me) it was at a time-
share in Galena— which our friends
Alex and Richard like to describe

as the only place in IL not flat as
a pancake. Guests drove in from the city
for a ceremony presided over by our
buddhist friend. My husband’s brother

and my first cousin read: first,
from the Psalms; then that poem
by Neruda which begins with the phrase
I don’t love you…, brings in salt

and dark things and earth and ends
with falling asleep. Which is to say,
nothing overly sentimental or saccharine,
but poetry— of course. Having been

through enough, we also knew
enough to plan the details
ourselves: local baker, edible
flowers on buttercream; green

dress from the racks at Marshall’s
for me; a potluck spread of ham
sandwiches and dim sum. When
my cousin and his wife (I hadn’t

seen them for more than 20 years)
prepared to take their leave
for their long drive back
to Lansing, MI, he shook

my husband’s hand then said
of me (by way of reassurance?
to say my husband had not made
a mistake?)— She’s a good woman.

It sounded almost Brechtian,
minus Szechuan. And perhaps
there is some way I can think
of myself as having had to assume

some kind of alter ego, a toughness
learned from having had so long
to fend for myself and my three
children from my first ill-fated

union. But what is good, and when
does one finally arrive at that destination?
We board the bus, even with the knowledge
that someone, something else, is driving.


In response to Via Negativa: Night bus.

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