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The Painter’s Wife

Read by Jehanne Dubrow

Rain brings the husband home early,
white dots specking his neck and skull,

a primered knuckle through the milk jug
without apology for the swig

or cold hand on her breast. Downed lines
mean dark when he’d rather have sun

to finish the job, or if here, like now, inside her,
light to watch himself by (and her), overalls

at his ankles, spattered with the colors
of the housewives of the neighborhoods.

Naked he’s hers again, until the throb of power
restored, the refrigerator

kicking in, and under the stairs
where his ribs anchor hers to the floor,

a bare bulb burning into her eyes.
Outside — the deck slick, boots

warped with chill, amphibious —
there’s his forehead to kiss

and the letdown of thunder, the crotch
of her jeans gritting along her skin’s

seam. At her feet, to the spit
of soaked gravel (his retreating tires)

a handful of furred sow’s ears listen
for spring without head or brain.

Recent poems by Tania Pryputniewicz (Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate) appeared in The Dickens and The Spoon River Poetry Review. Her cover art and the essay “Sheila’s Vine” appeared in the anthology Labor Pains and Birth Stories (Catalyst Press, January 2009). A contributing writer at,, and, she lives in the Sonoma County redwoods with her husband and three children.