PQR: Poems, Quotes, Readings

Leonard Commits Redeeming Adulteries with All the Women in Town

by Louise Erdrich

When I take off my glasses, these eyes are dark magnets
that draw the world into my reach.
First the needles, as I walk the quiet streets,
work their way from the cushions of dust.
The nails in the rafters twist laboriously out
and the oven doors drop
an inch open.
The sleep-smell of yesterday's baking
rises in the mouth.
A good thing.

The streetlamps wink off just at dawn,
still they bend their stiff necks like geese drinking.
My vision is drinking in the star-littered lawn.
When the porch ivy weaves to me --
Now is the time.
Women put down their coffee cups, all over town.
Men drift down the sidewalks, thinking,
What did she want?
But it is too late for husbands.
Their wives do not question
what it is that dissolves
all reserve. Why they suddenly think of cracked Leonard.

They uncross themselves, forsaking
all protection. They long to be opened and known
because the secret is perishable, kept, and desire
in love with its private ruin.
I open my hands and they come to me, now.
In our palms dark instructions that cannot be erased,
only followed, only known along the way.

And it is right, of women of the town, it is right.
Your mouths, like the seals of important documents
break for me, destroying the ring's raised signature,
the cracked edges melting to mine.

Erdrich, Louise. "Leonard Commits Redeeming Adulteries with All the Women in Town." Jacklight. NY: Holt, 1984, p. 52-53.

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Last Update: August 29, 2003