Lit Magazine

Joan

A poem about Joan Castleman, Glenn Close’s character in the 2017 film The Wife, based on Meg Wolitzer’s novel of the same name. In 40 years of marriage, Joan has ghostwritten the majority of her husband Joe’s work, for which Joe is now being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. This poem tries to imagine facets of Joan’s childhood and their irresistible connections to her present.

Joan By: Chloe Cordasco

cold salt sea

I ate the grass that straggled along bracing rock

before I learned to be what I was wanted to become

you should have been thankful to my influences

my muses as artful in a cake of soap a wedding

ring a gold filling

they danced and sang and

connived as they 

yessed and omitted and reduced

and slumbered 

they did it and they taught me how too

I learned not to the eat the 

grass, or the sand, or the soup

in my girlhood dreams they would read me and

light the pyre

later I realized they just wouldn’t care

and I assumed a guise, became my husband’s liar

you never could tell the difference between walnut

and pecan

their veins facsimile. go by the shells

the souls who peopled my words with stories

you held as pawns

so leather jacket woolen scarf

tobacco ash and scotch

lightheaded like my woozy lost grandmother

before her brain melted out her ears and candy froze her blood

lightheaded because you haven’t leaned into

since I can’t remember

so

close this bone is mine now too

me plus more

I have inborn fuel

happy to let it go fallow but

you unspoken wanted me to burn

my heart in my belly further down than that

I yessed

we’ll beat them at their yule

tide mock

we’ll show em

I’ll let that fuel burn burn

burn into ash and snow

then breathe anew

joe, I have you forever in my

cream-colored urn

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