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More Husbands

by Rebecca Hazelton

The husbands have a plan. The plan is to make
more husbands. More husbands, more problems,
is a thing the husbands have never said.
The more husbands there are the more husbands
there will be. That’s math. Husbands beget husbands.
The cities will be full of husbands. Husbands will spill
from the upper stories of apartment buildings.
Husbands will clog the canals of Amsterdam.
Husbands will walk across the Grand Canyon
on the bodies of other husbands.
There will be so many husbands
that husbands will seem interchangeable.
One husband is much like another husband
in the dark. Even now, the orchards are full
of husbands, ripening in the afternoon sun.
The farmers’ market sells fresh, young
husbands every spring. But artisanal husbands
are not cost effective. The husbands are building
a factory to modernize the making of husbands.
Now every husband working the line
has their hands on just one part of another
husband in production. Some of the beauty
of creation is lost, but speed is everything.
One day a husband will ask his husband
to get him a glass of water, and that husband
will pause over the kitchen sink, looking out
the window. He’ll see a wild husband
furtively slinking across the front yard,
then duck out of sight into a culvert.
There but for the grace of God, says
the husband, but he shivers all the same.

I wrote “More Husbands” as part of a new manuscript centered on husbands and masculinity. I’ve always been interested in marriage and the role of the wife, so this is a natural extension of my work. With this poem, the excessive number of husbands mirrors the outsized role husbands have in the American landscape. Rather than giving the husbands power, it creates uncertainty and chaos. But also, I thought it was hilarious to imagine husbands spilling out over everything.

Rebecca Hazelton is an award-winning poet, writer, critic, and editor. Her first book, Fair Copy, won the Wheeler Prize from Ohio State University Press. Her second, Vow, was an editor’s pick by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. Hazelton's most recent book of poetry, Gloss, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press, and was a “New and Notable” pick by The New York Times.