Guy calls the doctor, says the wife’s
contractions are five minutes apart.
Doctor says, Is this her first child?
guy says, No, it’s her husband.
I promise to try to remember who
I am. Wife gets up on one elbow,
says, I wanted to get married.
It seemed a fulfillment of some
several things, a thing to be done.
Even the diamond ring was some
thing like a quest, a thing they
set you out to get and how insane
the quest is; how you have to turn
it every way before you can even
think to seek it; this metaphysical
reframing is in fact the quest. Who’d
have guessed? She sighs, I like
the predictability of two, I like
my pleasures fully expected,
when the expectation of them
grows patterned in its steady
surprise. I’ve got my sweet
and tumble pat. Here on earth,
I like to count upon a thing
like that. Thus explained
the woman in contractions
to her lover holding on
the telephone for the doctor
to recover from this strange
conversational turn. You say
you’re whom? It is a pleasure
to meet you. She rolls her
eyes, but he’d once asked her
Am I your first lover? and she’d
said, Could be. Your face looks
familiar. It’s the same type of
generative error. The grammar
of the spoken word will flip, let alone
the written, until something new is
in us, and in our conversation.
from Funny by Jennifer Michael Hecht. Winner of the 2005 Felix Pollack Prize in Poetry. Copyright © 2005. By permission of The University of Wisconsin Press.