He couldn't say he ever loved her
but he liked the way she was a brunette one day
and a redhead the next, and that in bed
she could be large-bosomed or petite
depending on his mood.
Some days he walked her as a dog
and made her sit panting at his feet
while he talked to the neighborhood women.
Other times he set his drink upon her
then ran his finger along
the smooth polished wood of her surface.
He never needed to buy an umbrella or a broom.
She could be used as a pan to fry grilled cheese.
She made a serviceable canoe.
The years disappeared in stupefying languor.
When at last he needed a heart transplant
she beat for a time in his breast
before slowly dying of suffocation.

James Valvis lives in Issaquah, Washington. His poems or stories have appeared in 5 AM, Confrontation, Eclectica, Rattle, Southern Indiana Review, and are forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Atlanta Review, Crab Creek Review, Gargoyle, Hanging Loose, Los Angeles Review, Midwest Quarterly, New York Quarterly, Nimrod, Pank, South Carolina Review, and elsewhere. A collection of his poems is due from Aortic Books in 2011.


The poem came about when I misread the title to the Dorianne Laux poem: "The
Shipfitter's Wife."  Once I realized my mistake, I knew I needed to write the poem myself.  My dark imagination took over from there.  No real shapeshifters were hurt in the composition of this poem.



Copyright 2009