Poems by Jeremy Teddy Karn
“Some women marry houses.” —Anne Sexton
to be a housewife——like my mother,
is for you to have an assembly of gods
in your body— to have it
evolve back into its divinity every time
it shatters to the floor like a broken plate.
it is for you to wait every night praying
for your husband to return home.
whenever the house gathers itself into
the agony of my mother’s loneliness,
i don’t know how to distinguish
sobbing from her lengthy prayers.
there’s a stain prayer leave on the tongue of his mother;
it shows always after she’s done praying.
in our mother’s house, there’s still God
my mother’s radio is bleating out its anger
the way our neighbor’s goat would.
its loose voice tells that my mother has survived
another night of marriage.
the house in its emptiness will be left to be occupied
by mother, & her cats’ meows
that will become a song to make a home of her ears.
all that’s left for a lonely housewife to do
is pray, cram her body with God,
and watch her nursing degree beautify the living room wall.
every morning, my mother stands
at the window and envies other women
as they leave their houses for work.
Jeremy Teddy Karn is a Liberian poet and an MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (University of Iowa). His chapbook, Miryam Magdalit, was selected for the New-Generation African Poets – 2021 (African Poetry Book Fund). His poems have appeared in Lolwe, Poetry Wales, The Adroit Journal, Penn Review, Trampset and elsewhere.