INTERLUDE:

My Ex-Husband Asks Me Who Reads My Roughs Drafts
Alison Townsend

No one, I say, over Thanksgiving dinner at the Fess, the rhinestone ear-
rings I bought to please my lover brushing my cheeks like cool, knowl-
edgeable fingers. Then I amend that to: Well, my writing group does, of course.
But mostly I read my own rough drafts now.
I don’t know why he’s asking or
what it matters, the two of us poised at opposite sides of the table,
polite and wary, but still family of a kind, thrown together this holiday
by circumstances too complicated to question.

Dinner arrives, with all the trimmings, and we talk of other things. His
job and mine. Econometric models for utility companies. The business
of selling books for a living. He wears the navy blue sweater with a
snowflake design that I helped him pick out at Brooks Brothers. I wear
a bargain, teal-green silk from Shopko that he’s never seen, the weird
alchemy of divorce making strange what was once most familiar.

Pumpkin pie comes, followed by decaf–sweetened, with lots of extra
cream–and all the silly things we know about one another float,
unspoken, in the lamplight between us. We do not talk of the future.

But as he bends to sign his half of the check, I see again how he bent at
our kitchen table, going over my manuscripts, pencil in hand, teaching
himself about poetry because he loved me. And how it is for love’s sake,
and because no one in our lives can ever really be replaced, that he asks
me this question I do not know how to answer, except with the words
of this poem, this rough draft I am still in the process of revising.

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