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Postmodern Village
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Why I Never Left Your Father
by Francine DuBois

"This is what happens when lawyers don't get involved,"
she says. "It's worth it to stay married."
The $30,000 answer glimmers on her fingers,
spread across three rings on two hands.
It catches in the florescent light a little too starkly,
the white gold too soft against her hard skin,
the years of smoking and nagging
worn in her mouth like the path
from the princess bed to the harvest gold bathroom.

Her husband has already sighed, defeated
long ago, and has wandered to the tools section to
stand with the other defeated men at this estate sale
while the kept women cluck and coo at the jewelry.

I don't belong here.

"Of course, you just can't afford to insure these things!"
The diamonds wave the fingers in austere lights,
trying to escape the beehived-woman,
who looks stuck in a past with black vinyl booths
and a nametag that says "Mabel,"
except for these hands full of gaudy ice.

She voluntarily tells us she's lived in the same house for 30 years,
and judging by the street address,
what's she's wearing on her hands
is about half the value of her home.

I wander off, defeated too, still hearing her brag
about her jewels to my mother with a twinge of sadness
that I'm not around to instruct in the ways of the world.

But the Wife of Bath was a friend of mine,
and she, my dear,
is no Wife of Bath.

Francine's Version -- Hezekiah's Version
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