To my first love, I wept profusely.
These tears confused the boy, and he would act.
Generally, he took me out to eat.
I grew fat, sobbing my way into some of the best
restaurants in Richmond.
My first husband ignored the initial shattering of tears.
But if I went on grovelling, wailing long enough
he’d collect me from the floor
give me a bit more grocery money, wipe my eyes
tell me it would be okay by and by.
My second husband despised my tears.
He’d seen women crawl and shake enough,
said the vipers can enter a trance at will
and let their best sobs heave ho to twist a man
and bend him into shape.
I trouble not this third man with my tears.
Have in fact forgotten how to cry
and in forgetting have grown steel eyes,
a molten core like mad Vesuvius, am held in check
by nothing but the weather and the whims of fate.
Kate Gale, “Crying in Front of a Man” from Mating Season. Copyright © 2004 by Kate Gale. Reprinted by permission of Tupelo Press.
Source: Mating Season (Tupelo Press, 2004)