In the fitful glow of the bedside gaslight,
he spies her tantalizing new garment.
Sewn of silk the color of a conch shell’s
curved interior, hung by one lace strap
on the bathroom door’s brass hook,
it beckons. Lingerie, he thinks, finally
she has purchased something sexy.
It could be something from that siren shop
at the mall, or maybe she sent for it, choosing
its warm color, its brief length just to
the thigh, intercepting the tender package
at the door. She must have
hung it there to entice him, a signal
as forceful as a quiet metronome,
making his heart beat a seductive hymn
to the underthings of women, of wives, of girls
all grown up and ready.
Spying her as she slips into her usual flannel,
he asks with studied calm, Why not wear
that peignoir tonight?
That? she says, confused. That’s my mother’s
old slip; I found it in her things at the nursing home.
The light dims, the silk turns sour and twisted,
and the beat of his heart goes all uneven.
Published in 3Elements Literary Review, Spring 2019