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Good Husband Material by MH Rowe


I take a little husband material between my fingers. It is tough and strong, and I can imagine the future whenever I pull the husband material and it doesn’t break or tear or even stretch because it’s so tough and strong. It’s also smooth, with strange stubble on its surface. I throw the piece of husband material on the pile with the others and say out loud to myself that it’s good husband material. It is clear to me that the house I am building will be tough and strong like the husband material I’m using to construct it.
     Then a man comes over the hill.
     I see him with the visor of his own hand against his brow, surveying this empty valley. In his stance I see his claim asserted. His love and pain and history and future all hang from him like branches in a tree.
     I adjust my bonnet in the light wind playing over the grass.
     Then the man glimpses my hovel next to where I am building the house. I see that he sees me, and after a minute his head tilts slightly as he sees that I see him seeing me. I feel glad that I adjusted my bonnet. It was right to adjust the bonnet.
     The man starts down the green hill. He will be here soon.
     I continue to add to the pile of husband material. He will help me when he gets here.
     Men usually cannot identify good husband material. They ignore the implications about future use that are necessary for good husband material. They miss the union of texture and appearance. They don’t realize it can be as appealing cut into squares as it is woven into large blankets of fabric. Stretched and tanned or melted and remolded, the husband material can be used to make walls and doors. It can be used to make flooring. It can be cracked in half, or in thirds. But it can also make windows.
     I have no meal prepared when the man arrives. I adjust my bonnet again, as a kind of nourishment for us both.
     The man approaches quietly. I stand with my instruments spread out on the lawn. He looks down and picks up the pitchfork. Then, working together, we continue making the pile of husband material. The man gathers it quickly and with great care.
     “Good husband material,” he says.
     After a while we grow tired and stand up straight in the wind to stretch our backs. The sun is setting when the man turns to me, and I move closer. The man removes his hat. I rub my hand slowly against his rough cheek.
     If you look through a window made of husband material, you can’t see anything, so you just pretend you see something.

 

 

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MH Rowe‘s fiction and poetry have appeared in DIAGRAM, Monkeybicycle, Necessary Fiction, Word Riot, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, ILK, Jellyfish, and elsewhere. He lives in Minneapolis. Find him online at annotations.tumblr.com and on Twitter under the code name @mhrowe.