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A quarterly international literary journal

Married Men of Classic Film

/ Poetry /

Opening shot: the ingénue notices how they appreciate beauty—

the high-backed chair at the office, leather

tufted into satisfying symmetry. Their children

are toddlers, just learning to walk and talk—

voice-over: Da-da, train. They golf and never mention their wives

trapped in ornate, wrought iron frames (fleur-de-lis,

picked out by a secretary) decor that lies

quietly on their desks—close-up of the indisputable beauties.

At first, the girl wonders what it’s like to be her, A Wife

sick with distance, slumped at the therapist’s: That liar.

What a disgusting cliché it all is, she’ll say,

reaching for the tissues when she thinks of the children.

The married men always ask the girl if she wants children.

When the wife makes them take a vacation (stock footage—Belize,

endless, blank shores), they have heart-to-hearts

and morning sex, but back home it wears off, all that beauty.

Flash-forward: the girl goes for a spin in his new car, leather

interior. Do you love her? (She tried not to bring up the wife.)

It’s what’s supposed to happen, the married men say, the wife,

the big job, the big house. A payment for everything. The children.

The kind of excitement bruised by shame. The Leave her

stuck in the girl’s throat. In the hotel, she dreams of fleur-de-lis

as music swells, the wife picking out her own frame, her beauty

washed out, a photo overexposed. Who would you tell

if you could? (She’s learned they stay longer for pillow talk.)

But it’s never about the married men or their wives

(predictable climax: the wife sees them at the work party, beautiful

and avoiding each other, but careless as children

with those glances). It’s about character work—how she does lonely,

sad, or poor. How the girl tans it like leather,

cures and stretches it. How she wears that hide

through the denouement—always a montage, grey and silent.

In the closing scene, her headboard is a maple fleur-de-lis.

Ingénue no more. Inner monologue: I still don’t want to be a wife.

Let the married men have the big houses, the children.

She makes her own payments for everything beautiful:

the fancy car, the leather couch she’s married to,

the antiques. She gardens and answers, It’s like having children.

Pan out and away: the lilies of the field, their wealth of beauty.


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