The Ripe Time

Each month she thinks her nipples
are becoming more tender,
areolas blooming into wild ginger.
Before her is a bed filled with ardor.

Pregnant, not pregnant,
she is the princess without the pea—
a ball stuck in the pinball machine
that tilts like clockwork.

After making love
they lay on their sides silvered with sweat.
She listens for the soft chirp of her own breathing:
it does not reveal why her body operates
like a failed business.

On this night
where marriage is the only safe place
she can go, her husband holds her,
tells her it’s just a matter of time.

But all she can think about
is this empty house they can’t afford
and the ripe tomatoes growing in backyard containers,
smooth-fleshed and heavy,
falling from their stems.

Copyright 2006 January G. O'Neil


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