The Shipfitter's Wife

by Dorianne Laux
Laux. Smoke. The Shipfitter's Wife
I loved him most when he came home from work, his fingers still curled from fitting pipe, his denim shirt ringed with sweat, smelling of salt, the drying weeds of the ocean. I'd go to where he sat on the edge of the bed, his forehead anointed with grease, his cracked hands jammed between his thighs, and unlace the steel-toed boots, stroke his ankles and calves, the pads and bones of his feet. Then I'd open his clothes and take the whole day inside me—the ship's gray sides, the miles of copper pipe, the voice of the foreman clanging off the hull's silver ribs. Spark of lead kissing metal. The clamp, the winch, the white fire of the torch, the whistle, and the long drive home.