June Cleaver Needs a Break
She sits at the kitchen table, apron slung
over the back of a chair, and allows herself
a sigh. Ward’s relaxing on the couch
with coffee she prepared and the evening edition
of the Mayfield Press. Wally and Beaver
fed, washed, tucked in. Dishes done,
kitchen scrubbed to sparkling.
She removes her pearls and traces lazy
figure eights on the checked tablecloth,
lets her spine slip into a slouch. Swirls
red wine, which looks charcoal in her black and white
world, stretches her legs, allows her practical
pumps to fall to the floor with muffled plunks.
She closes her eyes, lets her mind amble
away from the spotless kitchen,
away from the new hole in Wally’s jeans,
away from the latest polite but stern note
from Beaver’s teacher,
away from the monotonous vise
of this perfect life.
In her mind, she steps onto an empty beach,
where sun explodes like fireworks on endless
turquoise water, a place full of color and possibility.
No roasts to season, no tables to set, no children
to gently reprimand, no pearls. She shrugs off
her fashionably prudent dress, her sensible
undergarments, tosses them in a careless heap
and stretches supine in the sand’s soft embrace.
For just a moment she wonders what Aunt Martha
would think, what her family would think,
but decides she won’t let them in. Instead, she lets
the sun run its long fingers through her hair, over faded
stretch marks and breasts Ward no longer relishes.
She throws her arms wide, tries her voice—the real one,
beyond the stilted range of perfect housewife.
It’s rough and clumsy at first, but it warms up
and she lets loose a throaty goddess yell
as she strides toward the water, sand spilling
in glittering trails of stars from her naked
reclaimed body, and dives headfirst into the waves.
That’s when Beaver walks in to the kitchen
in rumpled pajamas, half-grinning half-squinting
in the kitchen’s low light, says he can’t sleep.
She wrenches herself back to the black and white,
swallows her goddess voice till it’s just
a lump in her throat, ties the apron back on
as she gets up to warm some milk.
Lindsay Rutherford lives and writes in Edmonds, WA. She studies fiction at the Writers Studio and works as a physical therapist at a local hospital. Her fiction and poetry can be found in Lunch Ticket, Medical Literary Messenger, Poplorish, and WA129+.