Ode to the Other Woman’s Ass ||| Ecotone

You have occupied my husband’s imagination
when he otherwise might have been bored.
You gave him pretty shapes to behold
at the mall, in the supermarket, when he peered
from behind his Newsweek at the airport.
Oh thong wearer, the strings rising
from your crack like a bird’s wings in flight.
Oh pencil skirt, snug jeans, short shorts,
bikini bottoms, capris, and the circles
they contain. Oh billboard buttocks,
magazine tushes, movie-star derrieres.
Oh porno fannies, soft-core rumps,
the heinies of whores, the gluteus maximus
of the girl next door.

Oh Asses of Other Women,
our relationship, I know, has not been one of ease.
For years I feared you, feared that my husband
would follow your wiggle and leave me
for your high-branch peach, your airbrushed apple.
I also feared the eyes of your men, their animal glances,
their whistles when you were not with them.
I have put up with their flirting, as I hope you put up
with my husband’s. If you are like me, I know you will not
always like it, but on a bad day it can almost be welcome,
remind you of what can sometimes be lost
in a long marriage.

Oh Asses of Other Women,
you are beautiful, with or without a stranger’s validation.
You know that, and your men know it, too.
Yet, if you are feeling kind,
please ask the face attached to you
to humor my husband with a smile
should he look up to find eyes
and when your husband looks my way
I will try to do the same.


Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry Blowout (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other books include Ka-Ching! (Pittsburgh, 2009), Two and Two (Pittsburgh, 2005), Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (Pittsburgh, 2001), The Star-Spangled Banner (winner of the Crab Orchard Award, SIU Press, 1999) and Kinky (Orchises Press, 1997). The recipient of fellowships from the Guggenhiem Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Duhamel is a professor at Florida International University in Miami.

Ode to the Other Woman’s Ass” by Denise Duhamel first appeared in Ecotone Volume 7, Number 1, in the Fall 2011.