Husband

is not a word I’d ever care to use
for you; oxen-like it drags behind 
it others – tillage, tithe, stable, wife.
Yoked beneath a double load of labour
and love, it’s stumbled into this century
with so much baggage as if it meant to stay
and see how it pulls short a loose woman 
with a band that snags as often as it shines.

You, a farmer’s son, are not inclined
to ask too much of words (casually
you shed the names of all the flowering grasses)
but I’m of arty liberal stock – the worst
for seeking meaning that plainly isn’t there.
The book says hus- “house”, buandi “inhabiting”;
so does he inhabit the house, or is he
the house? The possibilities are many

and pointing to the same slammed door.
But I’ll not hold you to a photo look nor lay you
under a stone of Loving Husband To  ___ .
Still, I need you to come to the city tonight,
to this rented room – I’ll be up all night
with a stick, a line that’s come up clear and blue;
a dot in position to replace that word,
my love, with one that will at least be true.

 


from At Home in the Dark (Anvil, 2001), © Greta Stoddart 2001, used by permission of the author and the publishers

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Recordings

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1The Convert

2Errand

3Allies

4A Hundred Sheep in a Green Field

5The Fitter

6The Night We Stole a Full-length Mirror

7Greece

8The List

9Husband

10Waving Goodbye to the Elegists

11Convalescence

12Object

13Pupil

14A Puzzle in Four Seasons

15Salvation Jane

16The Wait

17You drew breath

18Matter

19At Play

20Verfremdungseffekt

21Philosophy for Children

22Counting

23The Engraver

24The Curtain

25Lifeguard

26Lamb

27Daughter

28Deep Sea Diver

29Voicemail

30ICU

31And here you are

32All those turning

33Letter from Sido

34Two o’clock

35Boy with Candle

36Skull and Hourglass

37Fire on the Beach

Books by Greta Stoddart