Diane Wakoski

To the Wives

You beautiful neat women
who always sleep between clean sheets
and have the comfort of children at your dinner tables,
fearing me,
the maverick stranger with flying hair
and bohemian ways,
as I talk to your husbands about poetry—my life—
because the poem is my green wind,
the song that winds me into a mountain of thick stones.
You have less to fear from me
than from your own friends. I would not steal
your husbands
—even if I could—
I would not even sleep with them or flirt in the back rooms…
I am a woman,
one with an urge to know, to move, to
I sing, I talk, I make love to
the mountains,
but I would not betray you,
though I envy you.
To do so
would be to betray my own future.
I, who constantly talk of honesty and wholeness and the hard but
good way of life—commitment—
do you think I would reinforce anyone’s false dream of freedom?
is in your head. It is a dark room
that frightens and haunts us all
from our days as children. Somehow, we,
the women,
who have often been kept inside to care for children,
or have tried to serve the lives of men not our equals,
we have learned,  and know, should know,
how necessary it is to find freedom, in the kitchen, in the
cell, in the bedroom, in our own hands, wherever we may be.
We do not have the world afflicting us,
besetting us with complicated bargains
and unreal expectations.
We should have learned better to control our desires,
to live for the beauty,
that fire that burns so bright,
our reality.
                 And I chide you
sweet wives 
for not knowing me better, not seeing what an ally you have in
me, for proving inadvertently what your husbands have been saying,
that women cannot think or reason or perceive,
that they are deceitful and don’t understand honor.

Yes, I am often a woman alone.
Yes, I like men, love them even,
wait for the one who might ever be my equal,
my partner;
Yes, I ache when I have to sleep alone at night
as I often do,
when my sun god, my King of Spain is not with me,
but I am enough of a woman to know
I would not be happy
with another woman’s husband
even for a night,
that I would anguish for the woman I want to be.

I do not want to possess anything. Or to be possessed;
Yes, I need the illusion of both in my life,
don’t we all?
you beautiful soft faces,
even you not so beautiful, hardened hurt women,
who are wives,
understand me. Listen to me. A man can talk to me for 10 minutes
and understand my reality,
my humanity,
how much I like the world, myself, and him;
I don’t have to fuck him
to prove it. Please
you are always asking for equal rights. I plead now
that you pay with equal understanding.
Have compassion for men,
for me;
for our lonely lives.
I am not sleeping with your men. I am only reading to them
—how I love them,
how I need them to listen—
my poems, as I now read/talk to you.
My poems, the snails on the wet garden path,
the small parts that make a motorcycle run.