Project Description

Dear repair technician,

My husband is not operating properly.
When he drives, he doesn’t speak,
or if he does, he says, that’s a Tesla.
In bed when I want my feet rubbed,
his hands will drift up to my breasts.
If he slices strawberries for cereal,
the stems remain in the kitchen sink.
Also he watches too much television.
He has not malfunctioned politically
for which I am grateful, and affection
is still reliable. Call with an estimate.
If marriage came with a warranty,
I believe it has long since expired.
Any minor improvement in function
will be appreciated as I do not plan
on replacing him.
Sincerely yours,

To Marry Is to Join the Paired Histories of Ancestors You Never Met

To marry is to sorcerize yourself into the word we
it is to feast when you aren’t always hungry
is to enter a town of snow fences
and walk down a boulevard under flowering trees
to receive a sealed envelope which you never open
and to carry that envelope high above flood waters
and know that whatever is inside the envelope is holy
sometimes marriage can be the loneliest hotel in the universe
because you so seldom know what your partner is thinking
but other times you don’t even want to know
or else marriage is to assume you know just what the other person is about to say
and instead to be completely surprised
this can happen even after fifty years
to marry is to be asked about the location of some object you never moved
marriage is like tomorrow’s weather
it is to shelter in that cozy place between the chin and the collarbone
to memorize the spine of the beloved
marriage is your hand going to sleep under the covers
and you not being sure whose hand it is.

Penelope Schott

Penelope Schott is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Her newest books are Serpent Love: A Mother-Daughter Epic, an exploration of a crisis between mother and adult daughter, and a collection called Bailing the River. She lives in Portland and Dufur, Oregon where she teaches an annual poetry workshop.