She was the middle child
not oldest, holding sway over the rest
not a boy, due respect from all
not the youngest, cute, the baby,

Getting married was a way out
a chance to be herself
but her loving husband,
who did indeed love her,
gave her anything she wanted
if he wanted it for her.

A diamond ring, a Persian lamb coat,
but she didn’t drive.
Of course she didn’t work.

Times got hard after the depression,
and all that changed.
Indispensable, she worked
with him night and day,
knew the business better than he did,
had a very good head for it.

Raising the children was another matter.
She was so timid, fearful of the world
and all its threats.
And he was unpredictable,
would grant favors unasked, or
put his foot down over nothing.

For sixty years she looked contented.
An old widow, she told her daughters
“If I had it to do over, I wouldn’t marry.”

Lari Smith