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  • Juliana Gray

After Begging My Students, for the 87th Time, to Go Beyond Physical Description in Their Love Poems

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

By Juliana Gray

In the final year of my young marriage, I drove

across the Mississippi state line

to teach in Alabama. Eighty miles,

three days a week, the two-lane blacktop

littered with armadillos, often sobbing

over music as loud as I could bear.

Our house would be dark, my husband asleep,

his late two-hour nap one of many

avoidances we’d perfected. And yet,

before he slept, he’d place a bottle of beer –

Rolling Rock, or whatever cheap stuff

we drank back then – inside the freezer for me.

I’d dump my papers, pop the cap, and take

a long, grateful pull, icy splinters

melting to seafoam, soothing my throat. Now:

can’t you see the kind of man he was,

and why I used to love him? Who cares what color

his eyes were? I think they must have been brown.


Juliana Gray’s most recent poetry collection is Honeymoon Palsy (Measure Press 2017). Recent poems have appeared in Willow Springs, The Shore, and elsewhere. An Alabama native, she lives in western New York and teaches at Alfred University.

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