Bio Note: I live north of Boston and teach at Boston University—in 3-D this year. Here is another in a series of poems about the affluent and brittle Mrs. Oleander.
Mrs. Oleander's Marriage
Lounging on her Robertson sectional, she re-ran the lunch a frantic Missy had begged her for, promising big bad news. Turned out Doug was leaving Missy for a temporarily pretty cliché. Missy’d blubbered all over her Caesar salad which exasperated Mrs. O., but then even a happy Missy could do that. Lunch unsettled her—it was Missy’s fault. Was the roiling near her navel anxiety or gas? A pang turned her head; a cushion slid softly to the floor. She straightened up and surveyed her living room, shadowy in the autumn light, a thing she hadn’t done for a decade. The room was reliable, easy to ignore, stable and tasteful. The coffee table looks keen to bark my shin; the fireplace, dead from desuetude. The paintings I’ve long ago lost interest in— my Cornish landscape, his unsexy nude— white carpet thirsty for a Bloody Mary, the Chinese lamp sad not to be a vase, the club chairs decorously stationary, antiques indifferent to houseguests’ praise. The drapes hang like mutineers, defeated, sick to death of being beige and pleated. She gave a little shiver. Her home felt so empty and hostile. Missy’s sobbing was so maddening that her sympathetic platitudes all rang false as knock-offs. Missy. Who could sympathize with a woman calling herself Missy? But what of Mr. O.? Would he displace her for one of his young things? No need—they’d made their arrangements. But if he tried, she’d hire that woman, the one he said picked the bones of his fat friend Phil, the lawyer all the men at the club feared and nicknamed the Barracuda. Fierce, toothy predators, barracudas. She’d looked up pictures, noted the dead black eyes, yoga-instructor bodies, the fins like razors behind the lethal mouths. She clutched her shoulders, shuddered. To brighten her mood, she listed all the things she loved. My amethyst necklace, going shopping, dinners at La Maison Provençale, table-hopping at the Club, Cecilia’s organza wedding gown, Mr. O. heading to bed early—or, better, out of town. I’ve had my fill of men and likewise ladies like Missy. But I do love my white Mercedes. The nameless thing in her gut twisted, rolled. For a moment the couch seemed to pitch and the walls looked to be waving like lava. What if one of his bimbos pulls a Boleyn, claims sex before the wedding’s a mortal sin? I wouldn’t much care if I were banished, if this soulless house went poof and vanished. She’d move from Winter to Florida, though Palm Beach must be rife with Missys, fragile cast-offs joining hardened widows for the early-bird special while, just yards away, the ocean teemed with barracudas. The house would be sold. It’s worth a lot. I’ll be all right for money, divorced or not. And I’d get it all, more than half at least. Your barracuda’s an insatiable beast.
©2021 Robert Wexelblatt
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