Not Selling Mary Kay in Lawton, Oklahoma

Not Selling Mary Kay in Lawton, Oklahoma

Karen Pape

i
Husband come finally, lately, from Viet Nam
Who is this stranger she’s moved with
to this base town in Oklahoma, carrying
her Mary Kay and hopes with her like
pink angels to begin again? He’s seen
napalm wounds and children left
sightless, limbless, orphaned
in a green lush land as far away
from Lawton as the moon, while
she’s typed, filed, worked, suffered
loneliness and the thought that far
away he’s found a girl who speaks
in tongues, who gravitates toward
a young soldier as her only hope
in an insane world.

ii
The wife stares at the pink
and white pills in a bright pink bag,
returns to West Texas
as far from the green lush world
of jungles and napalm as she can get
keeping on keeping on keeping on
through Tet and the threat
of infidelity, sure of one thing:
the best revenge is la dolce vita,
to live well, even when you are lost
in the deep wells of love and war.