POETRY

How It Is Supposed to Be
By Shelley Ann Wake

Nothing is ever
Quite as you imagined it would be
Or hoped it would be.
There are so many things
So smothered in meaning
That the real meaning
Has long been suffocated.

Like marriage proposals.
I know he is saying
The sweetest things
And I know he is meaning
The sweetest things
But so did he
And him
And him too
All those people
Some I know
Some in shows
Some in novels
And with all the knowledge
Swimming in my head
I find it hard to say
That I am swept away
By his sweetness.
“You are so special to me.”
“What we have is so special.”
If I am so special, how come this same thing happens to everyone else?
So I smile along
And I think I cried
And all the time wonder
If I do it because I feel it
Or because I know it should be done.

And then there I was
In the supermarket
Walking down the toiletries aisle
And I looked at the top shelf
And I smiled.
One of those smiles that verges on laughter
But has much deeper happiness behind it.
And he looks at my smile
And says, “What? What’s so funny?”
And I say, “Nothing.”
Because I can’t tell him yet.
But he wants to know and he says again
“But what’s so funny?”
And I shake my head but I still can’t help smiling.

 And he says,
“Was it because that woman was buying pads?”
And I look at him
And I wonder why
He would think I have not yet grown out of
Giggling at people buying pads.
And I know that this is definitely not the time to tell him.
So I say “Yes, that’s it, that woman buying pads, made me giggle.”
“You’re lying,” he says.
“I know, but just let it be.”
“I can’t let it be.”
“Please, let’s just get the groceries.”
But he can’t let it go
And like a child tugging on a toy until it breaks
He keeps going.

“Just tell me.
“Just tell me.
“Just tell me.”
And someone there
Standing in the checkout line.
I say,
“I’m pregnant.”
“What?”
“I was smiling at the pregnancy test kit. Because I’m pregnant.”
“Why is that funny?”
“It’s not funny, it makes me happy.”
“Oh.”
“And who cares why it’s funny. I’m pregnant.”
And that is how it was, in aisle number six of the grocery store I tell my husband I am pregnant.
And that is not how it was supposed to be.

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