“On Not Being Able to Read My Wife’s Handwriting”

I think of my wife’s penmanship as a race
Of dwarves drowning in a cursive swamp, or
Lost, hands waving, as consonants rush face
To face into unmitigated vowels. On the door
To our refrigerator one early morning note, or
A map of Tasmania with spasmodic X’s
Which might mean kisses or malfunctioning T’s.
Oh, Momma, Momma, why didn’t you warn me:
“Never marry a woman whose handwriting
You cannot read.” Full-blown capital R’s
Turned on their sides. My wife has either
Run off with the plumber (or is it carpenter?)
To inaugurate correspondences from Paris,
Or she wishes me to purchase for supper
Hornet butter, three pounds of javelins, and/or
One large rat to stab behind the arras.
Am I holding her message upside down? Possibly.
Now I shall suffer in suspense all day until night
To discover the full-mouthed truth of her scrawl.

— Louis Phillips