It should not matter if I think you’re pretty
but of course it does. How could it not?
The way our lives are set up against each other
it would be too much not to compare.
You used to love him and now I love him.
I the future and you the former wife.
I was also once somebody’s wife.
But somehow, the men size up each other
differently: hearty laughs and standing tall, not
careful, quiet scrutiny, as if to compare
what size jeans we wear could pretty
much tell us who has meant more to him.
We will always meet at the fulcrum of him.
Past and future will make sure we never lose each other.
We are uneasy sisters, one step removed, not
that either of us has chosen this. I am pretty
sure you thought you’d always be the wife.
I imagine the indignity of even having to compare.
He says his love for me cannot compare,
and that to search you is to question him,
and to question other lives when you were other
people. That you were man and wife
in youthful ignorance and selfishness, not
able to withstand the storms of life. Not kind, not good, not pretty.
But I also know that once he found you pretty.
And so a current runs to us through him,
charged with envy, fed by how we still compare
the space we both can’t take, the push and pull of title: ‘wife’,
claimed by one, then lost, then handed over to the other.
That which you were and I will be, but as of yet am not.
‘Who is my neighbor?’, asks a man of Jesus, and not,
I think, because he sees himself as lacking compared
to most, though weighing law and mercy make him
walk away perplexed. Perhaps his wife
will help him see the line, pretty
thin, between loving God and others.
Pretty soon my love for him will make me
ask the other wife, if,
compared to this, we are not neighbors, too.