I finger the pearls around my neck as my husband
walks to the podium to accept yet another prize.
In his tuxedo he looks grand and old; his head,
while round and bald as an Edison lightbulb,
does not shine as brightly as it did at our wedding
when he was slim as a wire. We were so poor
we could not afford a band for the reception,
only a scratchy phonogram; yet still he danced
me round and round until I was dizzy and laughing.
On stage he swims into view like a distant galaxy,
for my aged eyes are soldered over by cataracts.
He claims his vision is still as sharp as when
we were first married and he spent whole winter nights
at the cold glass of the telescope. Back then my friends
teased me, saying maybe he had a mistress,
but I had learned well where his passion lay.
Disappointment banged into our marriage suddenly,
like a bird breaking its neck on a windowpane.
He watched for hours the flicker of distant star-candles,
stared as nebulae fluttered over the horizon like doves,
while I lay alone and naked in our cooling bed.
Tonight he bows to the crackle and static of applause
from old men and their red-lipped second wives.
Perhaps now he has a mistress; he hasnít peered
at the sky in years, he thinks I canít understand
the enormity of his work, he thinks I like pearls.
He is receding with age; even when he lies next to me,
snoring, he looks like a figure seen through the wrong end
of a telescope, but every single day my life still wheels
around him like a planet. He takes a bow, his eyes survey
the galaxy of his admirers, of which I am only one of millions
out here in the kettle-iron emptiness of space.