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On becoming a housewife for the first time

  • 25 February 2014















This is no place to bring up a child, nowonder you look hysterical. But I judgeyou feckless, too. Why is one of youcrashing through the reeds while the otherhovers helpless on the far side of the road?When my car rounds the bend your chick,a downy pellet, is beside herself,feet frozen on hot asphalt. LuckyI'm not running late, lucky I'm driving my'mind the poddy calf out looking for trouble'best. On the way back, later, I brake hardbefore the body of one of you, a mangledmess of feathers, guts and gravel. The otherparent at your side now, and frantic. The chick,your dappled culmination, nowhere to be seen.



When your head, a black seal, bobs under the hob,when your starfish hands roll out the pastry,your torso flat and taut under your apronlike the flank of a horse lifting his feetthrough a doorway; when the caramel sinewsof your legs bend at the oven door, yourback, still warm from bed, curving while the dishhits a high metal note as you push it in,that's when I feel replete. Woman at rest,man baking apple pie, woman is blessed.I watch, book in hand, my own tools downed,your labour the gift, to my oyster, of sand.This is our dominion, we have been restoredto that cumbersome garden, rich and flawed.



Where is your motorbike?You look like you should own one.Snuffling around the edge of town,leather jacket, spiked hair.A lift of your head at my car radio:biodiversity, two speed economy.You get on with your businessaround the rubbish and gravel,too shy to chat and too tough to run.



Where is the honey? You asked methat morning, wide awake to the menuof the world. I hadn't seen the honeyin years — the jar a harem of sun,radiant and louche, perfected by a cityof drones. Too much to ask, a little wantoncomfort? We did have some once.Now probably overturned at the back of the pantry,candied and frumpy, the lid's threadarthritic with crystals. Our breakfast was over,I could not contain you with the butter instead.


On becoming a housewife for the first time at the age of 41

I learn to cut up a melon, though remain unable to bring a knife to a whole chicken. I save small lizards from the dogs. I find myself on tuckshop duty with my dearest friend; we didn't see this coming at university. I inspect a snake carcass with the boys at the bus stop and deliver a short safety lecture. I learn