Dear River Merchantís Wife

Lin Nelson Benedek

You wait for your husband.
I wait for mine
in a house of
swallows nesting in eaves and posts,

of dogs sniffing corners
and scratching at floors.
We draw the line at bedbugs,
you and I ó termites and fleas

and rats taking over the attic.
When mine returns, the dog and I
know heís coming before itís audible
to the human ear, tuned to his

pitch, picking him up even when
heís out of range.
But when he comes in he slams
the door too loud behind him,

hasnít figured out he doesnít
need to announce his return.
When heís home I let my guard down,
let him listen for night sounds,

though I wake up at nothing
and he could sleep through
a tsunami.† When he comes home the hands
of the clock start up again.

Iíve been dying to ask you:
Do you have snakes in China?
A snake hides in the flowerbed in front.
The door keeps him out.

Are the monkeys still grieving?
It seems I have been waiting
my whole life. I like knowing
Iím not the only woman who waits.

I wonder if your mosses are still growing. I wonder
if heís come down through the narrows of the river.†


Lin Nelson Benedek is a third generation Californian, currently living in Marina del Rey. She is a practicing psychotherapist with an MFA in poetry from Pacific University (2015). Her work has been published in Grey Sparrow, Flutter, Damselfly, Cultural Weekly and Postcard Memoir, in the anthologies Poets in Transit, Spectrum: 140 Southern California Poets; and ITWOW, an international anthology of poems by women. Her first full-length poetry collection, I Was Going to Be a Cowgirl, was released earlier this year by Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books.

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