Sex Shop

Idling the MG, he lips the Tipperary
as she teeters on red stilettos
toward the clanging metal door.

He’s made a list for her,
small objects she has been instructed to purchase,
proof of her attachment to him.

He hints at love,
as if desire were love’s close cousin.
“This,” he says, “is a test.”

How she hates that heavy door,
its rusty hinges screaming her entry.
And the clerk’s spaceship eyes lapping her alive.

Is she by herself, he wants to know,
tossing his possum-like ponytail over one shoulder.
Yes, she lies.

Her man has ordered her to say this,
promising safety. Hers is a love,
understudy to loneliness and denial.

Thrilled and ashamed,
her fist closes around the sultry vial,
chucking it at him through the car window—

her one act of defiance—
as if she’s just been scalded.
The night is pulled

like taffy from its origin—
a shave as she lay naked on the bed
in their dingy apartment on Burlington Street—

to exhaustion: a spilled jam jar of Merlot,

a broken mirror:
The sound of glass breaking
will keep her awake
for decades.

Julia Wendell‘s most recent poetry book is Take This Spoon from Main Street Rag Press. Her work has appeared in Nimrod, Cimarron Review, Prelude, and Revolution John. She rides horses when not writing poems and even at 60, she is riding and competing when she’s not writing.