From the Archive: Julie Cameron Gray (CAROUSEL 26)

Staff/ September 28, 2020/ Poem


Widow Fantasies

I want my husband to disappear, dissolve
like a spoonful of sugar in a cup of coffee.

I want him to fall asleep at the wheel
for a distracted driver to make a mistake
for snow to conceal a slippery surface.

I want it quick and painless and over in a flash.
Twist of metal, bone, the shattered
windshield a constellation

across black ice.
Traffic backed up for miles.

I’d get a call in the night, some
official telling me so sorry ma’am,
but your husband …

I want to know the temperature of that grief.

And then my husband would be perfect,
a perfection that exists only in absence.

I imagine the funeral, where I’d be buffered

on all sides by my family, by his —
I would be small, suffering, mute,
barely able to stand the funeral service

without sobbing uncontrollably at my own loss.

The clucking of tongues:
He was so young.
Such a shame they never had children.

And underneath it all:
But she’s young, she’ll find another.

My husband:
Lost like a letter in the mail,
a button off a coat.

And the absence —
how exquisite, to be burdened and alone
with that misery, that wound
so clean.

I imagine moving about my apartment,
fingering his belongings, crying

I never wanted this to happen, I never
really meant it. It was just a thought.
Only a thought.

But at night in my big empty bed
the stars would claw at my window,

branches would scratch at the glass,
saying you wanted this.

I would know it was the desire,
the brief fantasy that gave me
this precise and measured out loss,

dispatched as coolly as life insurance.
But it isn’t money I want,
when I imagine my husband gone forever —

No, it’s the delicious cut of the tie,
the severing,
as clean as a head from a body.

Julie Cameron Gray is originally from Sudbury, Ontario. She is the author of Tangle (Tightrope Books, 2013), and has previously published in The Fiddlehead, Prairie Fire, and in Best Canadian Poetry 2011 (Tightrope Books). Her second book of poetry, Lady Crawford, was released by Palimpsest Press in 2016. More:

Widow Fantasies
appeared in CAROUSEL 26 (2010) — buy it here

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