tagNon-Erotic Poetry"Whole Californias" (Flaubert)

"Whole Californias" (Flaubert)


I hear him playing in the night
through the floorboards
as I try to-cannot—sleep.

My husband who complains all through
his daily lessons always soundly sleeps
amidst these nightly private ones.

Daytime is bedlam here and the plinking
of incompetent pupils jostles
with the incessant squall of infants

and the sulky bulk of my husband,
sorry for himself because he has no work
and I, in consequence, too much.

I mend my musician's clothes, probably,
but which is his of all I do?
which his wife's? and which is mine?

I know I should worry about the price
of bread or whether Berthe's cough might
catch and kill her

but a tune he plays is tickling me,
makes me want to dance again
as I did once, red and laughing,

until I fell into bed alone,
uncaring, adrift on
whole Californias of dreams.

A moment's silence, then new music
and I shrink towards my husband's
unwelcome warmth.

Sometimes I wish he wouldn't make
such sad sounds as I lie and
hear him playing in the night.

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