This is what people who love each other do. When you have a husband, he will want to do this to you. Tommy unbuttoned my pants and slid his hand down. We were in my room and he had put a chair up against the door and was sitting in it. I told Tommy no and he pulled a beautiful watch out of thin air. I bought this for you. The watch was gold-faced and had a thick, opaque-plastic white bracelet band. I adored it. You can keep it as long as you don’t tell anyone. I wanted that watch. It was fashionable and meant for a stylish lady. Tommy kissed me. He slipped his tongue between my lips. I felt awful and said no. You will like it. I said no. Tommy stood up and moved the chair. Okay. I will come over another time. You keep the watch. Next time I will bring something else for you. Something you will love. I was confused and worried but excited too. What would he bring me? Tommy left. I showed my mother, who had been visiting a neighbor, the watch. It looked classy on my wrist. I felt important and glamorous. I don’t think I told her any of the details of what Tommy did to me. I was supposed to not tell. But my mother panicked and called Tommy’s mother. She did some detective work and found out that Tommy had stolen the watch from the mother of one of his friends. My mother took away the watch. I was very upset. It was mine. I cried for days because of how the loss of that watch made me, a first grader, feel. I was angry with my mother for taking away the watch for a long, long time.
Blue sky peppered with blackbirds. Blue deepens to black in the west. I am on the Dixie Chopper cutting grass. My lines are straight. Grass exits the chute and makes a pile of clippings to the right of me. I will have to make another pass to disperse the clippings, to make the yard clean. This is Mrs. Champagne’s yard and she is very particular but her sight isn’t great, so if I make a mistake she might not see it.
Blue-storm wind; a swirl of cool air reaches me on this hundred degree day. I am wearing a large-brimmed straw hat tied below my chin, a bandanna around my face to keep the dust out of my mouth, and old, faded clothing. Especially faded is the top shirt with long sleeves worn for sun protection. The sun has eaten through in places. There are patches of thin fabric through which I can see my skin.
As much as I hate the work, and the way my husband barks orders at me there is something very Zen about riding the mower, cutting grass and being outdoors more than I am used to. My head clears, my eyes wander to the birds, the plumes of steam rising from the sugar cane mill–the storm gathering upon itself from the coast. When I get in the Zen zone, lines of poetry come to me. This is the reason I do the work, and helping my husband is secondary.
As soon as I feel the exhilaration of a new idea for a poem something happens. A grinding sound and then water shoots straight up into the air, twenty-five feet high. Fuck. The worst thing in the world has happened. I ran over a water supply pipe. Panic sets in and I turn the mower from the disaster to find my husband. He is already running towards me, yelling “What the fuck did you do?” He runs past me and stops at the edge of the road with a wrench in his hand. I am confused but soon the fountain stops. He walks over to Mrs. Champagne and apologizes. He then gets on his hands and knees and with his hands as shovels he begins digging in the dirt around the pipe I had sheared with the mower blade. He works quickly and I can see the frustration in his hard-edged movements. I can hear the curses in his breath but they are not audible to Mrs. Champagne, who is somewhat hard of hearing.
He gets up from the muddy spot and walks to his work truck, shaking his head and muttering. Somehow he had a piece of pipe in the pile of who knows what in the truck bed, along with the tools he needed to cut off the supply pipe. He twists the cut pipe from its connector and threads the terminal piece. The whole process takes about fifteen minutes and we were back in business. This is the first big mistake I have made in the two years I have been cutting grass with him. I feel awful, and he is surly for the rest of the day. But watching him problem-solve in a very short amount of time—witnessing his knowledge, determination and ingenuity at work inspires. I have seen my husband perform a miracle.
I offer myself to him this night. And for the first time in a long time I seek his eyes as he moves above me. I seek him, his deepest self.