For James Green
Here comes your wife: beauty transcendent,
Elegance personified, in raiment resplendent –
Oh, how satisfying it is to love a woman who’s modern and independent.
You’re proud of the choice of your mate matrimonial,
Her outward appearance a flawless testimonial
To your impeccable judgement and taste,
And the main reason, on nights such as this, that so few of your thoughts are chaste.
She’s about to leave, you’re about to follow along,
But she stands there silent, for just a second too long –
Oh, how awkward it is to love a woman when you don’t know what it is you’ve
Suddenly, she smiles (Oh, thank God!) and utters a remark
Which leaves you panicking: terrified, clueless, in the dark.
“Notice anything different?” her voice innocently lilts,
But all you can see are the ghosts of answers past diving to hide under their quilts.
You study her face: two eyes, a nose, a mouth. No, definitely nothing’s changed,
And it’s all in the right place, too; the geography of her physiognomy reassuringly
Oh, how comforting it is to love a woman who doesn’t look deranged.
Your eyes dart everywhere in a fury of “What’s different?” detection,
For you have all of about five seconds to complete your
“What’s different?” inspection,
After which your answer must illustrate that you are the master of
“What’s different?” discernment,
Or else spend the rest of the evening in frosty “My husband can’t spot
the difference” internment.
You glance at her coiffured, immaculate hair,
It’s still the same colour and all of it’s there.
Both ears are in place and she’s not lost a limb,
She seems to be neither less large nor less slim.
Although it’s unlikely, you look just in case,
To check that she’s still got the lines on her face.
Perhaps she has changed her political views,
Or maybe she’s wearing some avant-garde shoes?
For your last-ditch attempt, you send reason to bed,
And ask of yourself, “Has she grown a new head?”
But you’ve learned, like most men, that to search is to fail,
And the answer still hides, like a smug Holy Grail.
There’s nothing for it now: you head for the last refuge of the unobservant husband
and gamble all on a guess,
As you casually inquire if she’s bought a new dress –
Oh, how easy it is to love a woman who answers “Yes!”