With Child
Marni Asplund-Campbell, editor

Falling Asleep, After the Wedding
Dixie Lee Partridge

[p.141]You think of friends talking in the yard
in summer dresses and suits, and it’s like
looking over your shoulder into a brief past you’re leaving
for something else. Your son and his bride,

unreal and beautiful, pose still
for photographs. You turn
and see your mother clearing off tables
of the wedding reception, and you don’t remember

to think she’s a thousand miles away on the farm
and couldn’t come. There’s your father, too,
in his bib overalls …
He’s eating wedding cake and is not

supposed to have sugar, and will be sick.
Your mother looks young and hands you plates
that you carry to the farmhouse sink where the water pressure
is only a drip because someone is taking a bath

and it’s your father. The knob to the bathroom door
is still broken, and before you complete the thought
about growing up believing that when something breaks
you must live with it, get by, your grown children

come into the kitchen, muddied in their formal clothes,
and you don’t know where to send them
to clean up, and why would they listen to you anyway
doing dishes still after breakfast, oatmeal caked in the pan.

[p.142]Your mother puts newspapers over the floor
for them to stand on, and simply waits with her most patient face
for you to do something, and you only know to keep on
stiffly washing dishes. She finally says why can’t you just

use your dishwasher, and you feel foolish because
you can’t quite remember what’s between this sink
and your house in birch trees and dogwood,
reception flowers, the dishwasher.

And now your limbs seem on the verge
of melting—something lets go
to relinquish the body that tries to do what needs to be done
to the one that can’t do much at all, as if

this version of being is what you need to love,
and even though everything else does matter,
you will not be able to sort things out
in the lifespan of dreams.