When a Woman Loves a Man
by David Lehman
When she says margarita she means daiquiri.
When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
And when she says， "I'll never speak to you again，"
she means， "Put your arms around me from behind
as I stand disconsolate at the window."
He's supposed to know that.
When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia
or he is in Boston， writing， and she is in New York， reading，
or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he
is raking leaves in Ithaca
or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate
at the window overlooking the bay
where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on
while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway.
When a woman loves a man it is one ten in the morning
she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels
and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed
where she remains asleep and very warm.
When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks.
When she says， "We're talking about me now，"
he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says，
"Did somebody die?"
When a woman loves a man， they have gone
to swim naked in the stream
on a glorious July day
with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle
of water rushing over smooth rocks，
and there is nothing alien in the universe.
Ripe apples fall about them.
What else can they do but eat?
When he says， "Ours is a transitional era，"
"that's very original of you，" she replies，
dry as the martini he is sipping.
They fight all the time
What do I owe you?
Let's start with an apology
Ok， I'm sorry， you dickhead.
A sign is held up saying "Laughter."
It's a silent picture.
"I've been fucked without a kiss，" she says，
"and you can quote me on that，"
which sounds great in an English accent.
One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it
another nine times.
When a woman loves a man， she wants him to meet her at the
airport in a foreign country with a jeep.
When a man loves a woman he's there. He doesn't complain that
she's two hours late
and there's nothing in the refrigerator.
When a woman loves a man， she wants to stay awake.
She's like a child crying
at nightfall because she didn't want the day to end.
When a man loves a woman， he watches her sleep， thinking：
as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved.
A thousand fireflies wink at him.
The frogs sound like the string section
of the orchestra warming up.
The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.
Dream of the Evil Servant
by Reetika Vazirani
New Delhi， 1967
We kept war in the kitchen.
A set of ten bone china plates， now eight.
As if a perfumed guest stole her riches . . .
The next day she wanted to leave at noon.
I said， be back by four， I'm paying you.
She sat by the door，
she put out her hand，
her knuckles knocked against mine，
hard deliberate knuckles. I gave her cash.
Off to watch movies， off to smoke ganja.
She came back late and high as if my fear asked for it.
I called her junglee.
Everything went off late ——
dinner， the children getting into bed;
but the guests understood：
they had servants too.
She stuck diaper pins in my children.
I cursed her openly. Who shouted?
Or I cursed her silently and went my way.
She stole bangles my husband's mother bought，
bangles a hundred years old. But she wore frayed jewelry
hawked on the street. She was like a rock that nicked
furniture in corners you'd think only a rat could go.
Why didn't I dismiss her?
I don't know.
She got old as I got old.
I could see her sharp shoulder bones
tighten， her knuckled skull.
I had to look at her. It had to wound me.
Listen， said my mother. Yes mother， I listened， crouched in my head.
Looking over the flowered verandah she said：
Who are you to think you are beautiful?
What have you got to show?
Go sit on your rag.
All my life I tended to looks，
they betrayed me. I bore you.
I am wretched. Be my mother. Be my maid.
When You Are Old
When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire,take down this book,
And slowly read,and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once,and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur,a little sadly,how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.