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Diane Lockward

Diane Lockward

Diane Lockward is the author of The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop (Wind Publications, 2013) and three poetry books, most recently Temptation by Water. Her previous books are What Feeds Us, which received the 2006 Quentin R. Howard Poetry Prize, and Eve's Red Dress. Her poems have been included in such journals as Harvard Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. Her work has also been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Gwarlingo, and The Writer’s Almanac.

Shopping At The Short Hills Mall

I walked into a store and bought a new husband.
The old one had conked out and was minus
irreplaceable parts. The store had advertised
a new, improved model, and they took trade-ins
which was attractive as I wanted to eke out
one last bit of value from the dud I'd dragged in,
plus now I wouldn't have to worry about disposing
of him in an ecologically responsible manner.
I looked at several models and lingered over one
that came fully loaded. I wasn't going to settle this time.
The salesman explained each feature
and made this potential husband sound comprehensible
and easy to use. He demonstrated how to operate him
with a remote control, a device I'd seen but never held.
He showed me the right button to push to keep him clean
and sober. He showed me how to sanitize the mouth.
There was a button for tricks, one for special effects,
and one to get colored lights going. The salesman
promised that this model could do house repairs
and was good with his hands. Of course, he attempted
an upsell. For an extra $50, this husband would sing
in the shower without restraint. And when I turned
him on, he'd do the same for me. I checked to be sure
the heart was in the right place and appropriately soft.
My old husband had worried about the thickness
of his heart. I'd worried about the hardness.
Of course, the new one would love me—a feature
common to all the new models and something,
the salesman assured me, I'd soon get used to
and wonder how I'd ever lived without it.
I put my money on the counter, a year's worth
of groceries, but knew I'd never go hungry again.
The salesman said if I could wait he'd charge up
my new husband. I agreed as I seemed to have lost
the knack and had already waited for years.
I passed the time imagining a night of kisses,
two arms around me like a warm coat.
I handed over my old husband and felt him
shake just a bit. As I walked out with my new husband,
I heard the old one calling my name, like a song, like a prayer.

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