The Shipfitter's Wife


    I loved him most
    when he came home from work,
    his fingers still curled from fitting pipe,
    his denim shirt ringed with sweat
    and smelling of salt, the drying weeds
    of the ocean. I would go to him where he sat
    on the edge of the bed, his forehead
    anointed with grease, his cracked hands
    jammed between his thighs, and unlace
    the steel-toed boots, stroke his ankles,
    his calves, the pads and bones of his feet.
    Then I'd open his clothes and take 
    the whole day inside me-the ship's
    gray sides, the miles of copper pipe,
    the voice of the first man clanging
    off the hull's silver ribs, spark of lead
    kissing metal, the clamp, the winch,
    the white fire of the torch, the whistle
    and the long drive home. 

    -Dorianne Laux


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