Thinking the hearts of men are too rough?
Sunlight has passed through her window;
She has stopped sewing hems and buttons.
Desire, she thinks, is her heart’s disease.

Tomorrow she will visit her mother’s grave.
The flowers she leaves are precious and rare,
Centranthus Roseus, the keys to heaven.

Tonight, in the mousey darkness,
His hand will touch her small bare breast;
She will think of the weeks before the wedding,
A fire at an orphanage, the Russian missionary
Who lost his youth in a soldier’s tent.

When she married, she remarked his large hands,
His shame, his apologies to God, the shyness
He carried daily into the quarreling rooms.

Vivid and heavy, she hears him thump
Through the kitchen, never tasting
The apples in the bowl, or if tasting
Never thinking of the apron holding them
When picked; on the cutting board,
The apple skins peel and pile; she studies
The knot of her knuckle, remembers
The one who found her lips at night,
Her own breath rising like mist at morning.

Daniel James Sundahl is Professor in English and American Studies at Hillsdale College where he has taught for thirty years.