if William carlos Williams was getting divorced

 Emily Hillebrand

The Academy of American Poets

fails to report what went on

between picturesque notes

scrawled on receipts and envelopes.

Flossie Williams loved plums

more than sex. The poet’s wife

kept this private joy in the far corner

of the icebox, hidden by the grapefruit

and the blueberries, blushing and ripe

where her husband’s greedy hands

wouldn’t reach. But reach they did.

William Carlos Williams stretched

his skinny fingers to rearrange the icebox

like he did the living room,

a throw blanket and embroidered pillow

doubling as a bed, twentieth-century

decorum be damned. He rolled the fruit

in his hands, held the flesh up to his mouth

and let the cold numb his lips before

sinking teeth into its soft pink underbelly.

The juice ran all the way up his arm,

onto the white shirt she starched

three days ago in the September sun,

so that when he crafted the note

and left it crumpled on the kitchen table,

it was dripping with the evidence

of his seed.

When Floss came home

she found her heart in the icebox,

laid there with her husband’s pen

and the frosted pit. She cradled

the frozen ventricles between her hands,

held the dead blue thing up to her mouth

for a kiss, and let her lips turn numb.

The Academy of American Poets

does not detail what happens

to a divorcée in 1909.

It does not describe

how “this is just to say”

becomes the strangest rotten fruit

in the glow of a lamp,

white gloves stained

by freeze-dried blood.