Sept/Oct 2021 • Vol. XLIII No. 5 PoetrySeptember 9, 2021 |

After Cocktail Hour

It’s late July. The lawn is full of photogenic children running and yelling against a backdrop of sunset, the promise of ice cream and fireflies like we’re inside the kingdom of a Hidden Valley Ranch ad. The wives are wearing sundresses or sensible shorts, the husbands are lined up beside them in their flat-front khaki pants. One husband brings back a glass of chardonnay, a single bead of condensation just beginning to drip down the stem and, with the habit-formed intimacy of two fingers to the inner arm, the place where you’d find a pulse or draw blood, hands it to his wife. Someone’s child is at the lawn’s edge, crying, and the blond-bobbed wife, the child’s mother, sees her husband laughing nearby, not looking. She steps into the high grass to comfort the wailing child. Is every marriage a little bit a catalog of grievances?

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It’s late July. The lawn is full of photogenic children running and yelling against a backdrop of sunset, the promise of ice cream and fireflies like we’re inside the kingdom […]

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