In Praise of Spouse*

 

            “spouse, a hideous word” – Ellen Bass

 

I love this word that doesn’t force you to watch

football while drinking bad beer or to mow the lawn

even though we don’t have one, that doesn’t force

me to make our bed or to have dinner ready by five

each night even though you’re the one who loves

to cook. We can be ourselves in this word, choose-

our-own-adventure in this life we write together. I

love this word that sounds like a person has become

part-house, all home, the safest place to whisper

even hideous words, to be loved though known.

*"In Praise of Spouse" was selected by Limp Wrist founder/editor Dustin Brookshire  as a finalist for Limp Wrist's 2021 Glitter Bomb Award.

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Katie Manning

Pronouns: She/Her

3 Poems

In Praise of Spouse

Con Pane

Temporomandibular Prayer

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Con Pane

 

            December 2020

 

Baking bread—yeast, cinnamon—

and coffee welcome me through

the doors. They’ve retiled the floors,

hung new rolling pin and stand mixer

art on the walls, placed poinsettias

on each little table to welcome us

after almost a year closed, after

we thought we had lost them forever.

I’ve waited a week for the crowds

to thin. I’ve come right at opening.

The only other people here at this time

are older. We smile with our eyes

but spread our bodies far apart.

I look past the bread wreaths to scan

the menu, to make sure the roster

is correct: pear and almond scone,

tomato and cream cheese focaccia,

chocolate hazelnut twist, cinnamon

roll, gruyere and chive loaf (on

Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday).

Somehow, when we’ve lost so many

lives and livelihoods, these breads

have come back. And I’m crying

when I give my order to the young

woman who doesn’t know how

to work the new computer system,

and I try to explain that this place

was my comfort, a routine that carried

me through my spouse’s chemo, and

she keeps apologizing for the delay,

and I keep thanking her for being

here, for giving me bread again.

Temporomandibular Prayer

 

Each time I

open my mouth,

my jaw snaps

like a rude

diner. When I

click my bones

again each night

in prayer, I

picture God bustling

by, apron pockets

full, pretending not

to hear me.

Katie Manning (she/her) is the founding editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She is the author of Tasty Other, which won the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and her fifth chapbook, 28,065 Nights, is newly available from River Glass Books. Her poems have appeared in American Journal of NursingThe Lascaux Review, MORIA, TAB, Thimble, and many other venues. 

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