We spend the longest night of the year together,
chain-smoking on the bleachers
at the high school softball field,
our backsides frozen even through our jeans.
Cars speed by on the main road, their headlights
fading like starlight over the hills;
small herds of deer move in the dark
spread out behind us like black silk sheets.
You tell me how your wife has grown cruel
and bitter these last few years, that
even the daughter who shares her blood
and yours will not be enough
to keep the walls of your home from crumbling.
There is a shame that dwells inside me
like a winter wolf, hungry for the hot soak
of blood against the sharp,
white towers of its teeth.
I want those words to be as true
as the flight of the arrows you taught me
to fire into the beating hearts of rabbits.
When I shiver, you offer me
your sweatshirt, thick
with the scent and sweat of you.
Your hand lingers on the curve of my thigh,
wedding ring blazing like a comet
against your suntanned skin,
and I know that all I would have to do
is turn my head and follow you
into the night, beyond the reach of the streetlights
and tires and blaring radios.
I think of your wife as a minor goddess
tending fires, her pale hands thrust deep
into never-ending seas of soapy dishwater,
scrubbing grease from the sleeves of your work shirts,
cutting apart thick slabs of roast for your dinner,
her flannel-wrapped body sliding under blankets
in the bed you share. I remember, once,
it was my own husband who disappeared
like the waning globe of the moon
into the arms of another woman, his memory
now a mere myth in the book of my life,
the myth of the great hunter who ventures
into snow-capped mountains, chasing
the silky gray bodies of wolves
and never returns home.
I refuse your shirt; instead,
I draw your attention to the stars, point to
the long, lithe body of Orion,
his silver arrow forever nocked
and ready to conquer the world.
Before him, only light years of empty sky.