This year your daughters marry white men
at bare presbyterian altars,

descending the aisle like snowmelt,
ineluctable thaw of woman-making.

The husband you married for looks,
buys you perfume and goes, solitary,

to mass with your mantilla,
your piety his public charge.

In the beauty parlor, your hair
is the season’s hair—garnet dark tiers

to firmament—pollen soft to sweeten
the moods of strangers and hornets.

The ranchers seeking hands have found
some other hands, much tougher

than your sons whom you keep pliant
as paraffin, indolent and charming,

at your table with honey and no news.
The police cars have all broken down

and been abandoned by their chiefs.
They meander down to the river

like children stunned by idle days.
Summer’s verdict is thrown away.

This year you light yourself a candle
molded with unspeakable pleas

and watch the melt pool shrink itself,
vanish itself in the glass tower.

When the hard wax has lifted
from your opalesque bones

you are free to follow your ways,
the ways you’ve given to me.

The heart on your slightly crooked mouth,
which you take your pains with,

the dime store vanity
and famous antics of martyrdom.

This year is the year he leaves
his mistress in a broken heap

of ballast and cigarette butts.
You receive his faithful gifts

through the door cracked open,
every day returns in histrionics,

and the roses keep themselves trimmed.
Here’s the year the albums attest

to the fortune of fecundity,
the children growing native and hardy

as red paintbrushes in gravel beds.