they demand it
the marriage counsellors, the psychiatrists, the doctors
on the covers of self-help books
write a five hundred thousand word essay
on the importance of talking
on what you like and dislike about your partner
on the domestic division of labour
on why adultery is like
(is this a research paper, ma’am? is ice cream
a good answer to any question on this exam?)
let’s ask the veterinarian
to read the shifting winds of our cohabitation
the dog-sniff and horse-whinny
around hormonal and excremental perfumes
to check the position of the hips
the curvature of the spine
the wetness of nose and lips
the persistence of halitosis.
we could hire entomologists who know
the chemical semaphore of sociable insects
to collect dropped underwear
the open millimetres of drawers
the tension in a contrapposto stance
the recoil, the lurch sideways, the panicked palpitations
triggered by a browning banana peel
on the kitchen counter, knife beside it
or by a passing touch of air on a bare neck
bent over the evening newspaper.
we could call in a virologist to decode
the genomic fragments of emotion
spun and snapped off from mutant heart cells
flotsam in the blood stream
washing up in the grouting of bathroom tiles
riding over pillows in the bellies of dust mites
balanced delicately on the dusty blades of ceiling fans
until they collide with the right receptor site,
their alien language uncoffinned and amplified.
and the boy who fishes in the lake nearby
who never catches anything
who wouldn’t want to catch anything
just watches perplexed dark shapes
loll like the water’s idiot tongue
dance like sun-spots on the eye,
terrified by the thought of the monster
that might one day break surface at the end of his line.
Mathew Martin teaches English literature at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario.
He has published poetry in Sentinel Poetry (Online), Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Contemporary Verse 2.
Email: Mathew Martin
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