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Published: Wed Oct 15 1975
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California

In the middle of the party
I went straight to sleep.

When I awoke,
Smoke hung in the air,

Scrim after scrim.
In the living room,

Two women sat, brides
Wearing their gowns.

One sipped at her drink;
A flower had fallen from her bouquet

And sat on an ice cube
Which slowly dissolved. Another,

Before pregnant as a fig,
Was rocking a crib.

“Twins,” she said, turning down
The corner of her mouth,

Not looking up.
A tiny child ran around the room

Hitting the walls like a moth.
In the corner, the lawyer

Sat on a high stool,
Scribbling a writ.

“One divorce and two wills,”
He said, clearing things up.

In the kitchen,
I could hear water running over a dish.

“What did I miss?” I asked, confused,
Shaking my head,

Trying to get everything straight.
The girl with the twins looked up,

A cigarette stub in each eye,
Hairs on her chin.

“Not much,” she said,
Bending to scratch her leg.

It was beginning to itch.

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Susan Fromberg Schaeffer is the author of fourteen novels, a collection of short stories, six volumes of poetry, and two children’s books. Her numerous awards and recognitions include the 1974 Wallant Award, three O’Henry Awards, and a Professional Achievement Citation from the University of Chicago Alumni Association in 1996. She retired from her teaching position at the University of Chicago in 2009. (updated 7/2010)

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