Love Explained

Guy calls the doctor, says the wife’s   
contractions are five minutes apart.   
Doctor says, Is this her first child?
guy says, No, it’s her husband.

I promise to try to remember who   
I am. Wife gets up on one elbow,

says, I wanted to get married.   
It seemed a fulfillment of some

several things, a thing to be done.   
Even the diamond ring was some

thing like a quest, a thing they   
set you out to get and how insane

the quest is; how you have to turn   
it every way before you can even

think to seek it; this metaphysical   
refraining is in fact the quest. Who’d

have guessed? She sighs, I like   
the predictability of two, I like

my pleasures fully expected,   
when the expectation of them

grows patterned in its steady   
surprise. I’ve got my sweet

and tumble pat. Here on earth,   
I like to count upon a thing

like that. Thus explained   
the woman in contractions

to her lover holding on
the telephone for the doctor

to recover from this strange   
conversational turn. You say

you’re whom? It is a pleasure   
to meet you. She rolls her

eyes, but he’d once asked her   
Am I your first lover? and she’d   
said, Could be. Your face looks   
familiar. It’s the same type of

generative error. The grammar
of the spoken word will flip, let alone

the written, until something new is   
in us, and in our conversation.

from Funny by Jennifer Michael Hecht. Winner of the 2005 Felix Pollack Prize in Poetry. Copyright © 2005. By permission of The University of Wisconsin Press.
Source: Funny (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005)
More Poems by Jennifer Michael Hecht