If your wife hates you
don’t go out and get another one,
it’s probably not your fault anyway
unless you put too many oranges in the bowl
and were only supposed to place two.
Still, she probably can’t count
but that says nothing about the turn of her elbow
on the countertop.
Your kids say, Mom likes her chicken to taste like asparagus
and you say, I goddamn know it,
can’t you see the green stuff under this wing.
That’s when your kids start to hate you–
the volume in your voice,
the tinker in your lip.
What the hell, you shout, then walk into the street
where the snowplows have been turning the road back into a road
and wait for them to turn you into one as well.
But, they don’t.
They hate you too–big tires, red steam–
and cover you with five feet of snow
which is just enough to keep your nostrils flaring
and the wind hates you, the sleet, the whole side of winter
that barrels in from Canada.
You’re out there wishing you were an Inuit
so you could survive this freeze,
or a penguin, or a guy with a backhoe
who knows how to hoist an iceberg.
But you are not and that’s the problem
so you start to suck and suck and suck
the snow
right up inside into the center part of your brain
to make the hate go away,
melt it into a big pond where everyone who hates you
can swim, boat, and fish.
Which is when you realize, you have it too, the hate—
for the wife, the kids, the plows, the snow
but no one is heading out to get rid of you either
because that’s not how things go down in this part of the world.
Which is when the sun comes out.
Which is when you see that everyone is out here
in the middle of the street with you
sucking and sucking and sucking the snow
into the middle of their brains,
making bodies of water
and soon
the whole neighborhood will have so much fresh water
that all these small little lakes
will have turned into one big great lake—
not Huron or Michigan,
but a sixth one, a new one,
and that you get to name it,
something like Lulu, or Francis,
something like Love.

Matthew Lippman

MATTHEW LIPPMAN's collection MESMERIZINGLY SADLY BEAUTIFUL won the 2018 Levis Prize and will be published by Four Way Books in 2020. ve Order (www.lovesexecutiveorder.com).

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