She Was Waiting to Be Told
For you she learned to wear a short black slip
and red lipstick,
how to order a glass of red wine
and finish it. She learned to reach out
as if to touch your arm and then not
touch it, changing the subject.
Didn’t you think, she’d begin, or
Weren’t you sorry
To call your best friends
by their schoolboy names
and give them kisses goodbye,
to turn her head away when they say
Your wife! So your confidence grows.
She doesn’t ask you what you want
because she knows.
Isn’t that what you think?
When actually she was only waiting
to be told Take off your dress–
to be stunned, and then do this,
never rehearsed, but perfectly obvious:
in one motion, up. over, and gone,
the X of her arms crossing and uncrossing,
her face flashing away from you in the fabric
so that you couldn’t say if she was
appearing or disappearing.