Playing the Husband

November 25, 2019

When you were the husband, you kissed up my back,
lips cresting each ridge of spine. When I was the husband,

I traced your name—the only poem I knew—
with pointer finger, then tongue, in the small frame

your shoulder blades made. When you were the husband,
I lay flat on my back and closed my eyes. When I closed

my eyes, the room didn’t smell like musty blankets, damp
weather, strawberry shampoo. When you were the husband,

I couldn’t be the husband. When you were the wife,
I wanted to be the wife. When you licked my wrist,

I imagined I was someplace I wasn’t supposed to be.
When I was the wife, I never asked how you learned to be

the husband; the wife doesn’t ask questions. When you
taught me how to be the husband, you instructed through

touch. The room always dark. Hold me like this. We didn’t
call it anything. When we stripped down to underwear,

I had this extra gene called inhibition. Once, when you
were the husband, I told you to stop. No one taught me

to be the wife. You never cried. You never wanted me
to stop. We slept like two spoons tossed in a drawer.

Emari DiGiorgio