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poetry For Worse, For Poorer, In Sickness

Southern California poet Stephanie Brown knows a thing or two about a relationship that sours, suffers, and never recovers as it goes on.


For Worse, For Poorer, In Sickness
By Stephanie Brown
It was easy to forgive prostitutes in Mexico,
Also in Amsterdam. Less easy was the money thrown around
On Avenida Presidente after driving down,
Dollar bills rained on the sidewalk from our closed joint account.

Marriage was a defeat. Marriage was a humiliation.

One could be
Alone of course, but the same problem he had, I had.

I would take care of him who might never get better.
I’d recycle the staff’s soft drink cans from work: an extra $15.00 a month, I’d sell
I’d stop wanting anything better, anything more.
I wanted health to come back. I wanted a normal conversation like we’d had.
As I said back then, if we hadn’t known each other for over ten years
I’d have left. It was
So strange, as alien as the aliens who told him
The secrets of mathematics, the ones who spoke
A Geometry-English. 

Finally there came a kindness,
A lack of depth, a lack of aggravation.

For better, for richer, in health—all this goes into the past.

You may get peace; you can earn the money back,
You may get better rather fast, but you never return ever

To writing down plans for the next five years—the house we’d own, how we’d raise
Our kids, how we’d support each other’s
Successes.  Love would never be that love again:
Glorious vision of youth, the riches
Of coins and rubies we gained, clean children around the groaning table.

Stephanie Brown is the author of two books of poetry, Allegory of the Supermarket (University of Georgia Press, 1999) and Domestic Interior (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008).  Her work has been published in American Poetry Review), Ploughshares, Slope, Pool, LIT, ZYZZYVA, Green Mountains Review, Map Literary, and other journals and has been selected for six editions of The Best American Poetry. She is an Administrative Manager for OC Public Libraries in Santa Ana, CA and lives in San Clemente.