April 21, 2016
After twenty-four and three-quarters years married
Bluebeard’s first wife killed herself in the house
they built. (That’s a bit misleading. Truth is,
in the weeks that followed, ’Beard and the kids stared
at each other, eyes and mouths round like Cheerios,
thinking “What did you do?” and “What did I say?”)
Three months later he remarried, his long-time assistant.
Refinished her basement, too. The man kept his promises
but not her. Years after, news came that she’d died.
Parkinson’s. Unexpected, since she was two decades
younger than ’Beard. By then he’d already parted
(amicably, he’s an amiable man) from number Three
who really only lasted long enough for him
to replace the insect-rotted wooden floor
of her tropical duplex with ceramic tile. Cool.
Four simply didn’t want to be alone through
a hurricane. But she decided to keep ’Beard
as he was doing repairs on the fly while it rained
horizontally inside her bungalow.
A decade later, he found someone to mind her –
Alzheimer’s – while he attended Three’s memorial.
Five and he both survived heart surgery before they met.
Matching scars. They bought a small condo, in good shape.
She doesn’t like ‘Beard to climb even a step-stool,
change a light bulb. All the others let him reign
in the workroom, tools on hooks in pegboard,
with outlines to show what’s missing.
Kathy Mac, AKA Kathleen McConnell, is a professor and author currently living in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Her most recent book is Pain, Porn and Complicity: Women Heroes from Pygmalion to Twilight.