Two Poems by Cynthia Hogue
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Tree


It's just like her to cry,
Oh, stop living in your head ,
Billy!
It makes more sense

where the sun always shines
on dreams programmed for optimism.
Often the man wakes up laughing.

He's lost his wife and calls
himself divorced, but each night
she says, Good night, my dear,

as if she still lived in the house
he bought for her. He hears her
in the live-oak through the open window,

telling him what to do. Everyone tells him
he's better off. He thinks,
I've wasted my life! The man wishes

his wife would come back because
his beard has grown like Spanish moss.
Letters in his book swim through the room

like zebra fish. The salamander-
colored dog noses the screendoor.
The man knows somewhere there's a reason

to go on. He wrote last week that he hoped
"to build a new life." He sent the letter,
with his baby picture, to the Times-Picayune,

which put it in the personals. Someone
called to him from the magnolia tree,
which has bloomed into huge, disk-like flowers,

so many satellites waiting for signals.
Goldfinches flit at the tree's foot.
He loses himself in the perfumed air.

His wife loved hummingbirds,
though the feeder has hardened
with old sugar.
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