And They Lived

I want a story to keep me company while my husband
stares into his phone, beside me in bed. Any story.
That a man named Solon planned the whole city of Athens
while in love with his mother’s friend’s son. He broke his hand

trying to catch a turtle on the roof of a temple
is what I want to be told while my husband plays scrabble
against any number of people he hasn’t seen in years.
Exist for forty points links to stop for twenty-five which

he drops into tranq for its q worth at least half the house.
Slang for a person or thing that will act as a sedative.
Tonight after three episodes of a show about Russian spies
with perfect American accents, I ask if he like peanuts

and he says he loves peanuts, and it’s as if we’ve just met
and are fools for each other, still make out on sidewalks at dawn.
Plutarch recounted the life of Solon “at a time when history
was by no means an academic discipline” wrote someone

on Wikipedia, while Solon wrote a law forbidding slaves
from being gymnasts because his mother’s friend’s son
was a gymnast and a slave and because he didn’t
fall in love with Solon back. “It is irrational to renounce

what we want for fear of losing it,” wrote Plutarch.
His eyes in a duel with the screen of his phone, my husband asks
what dentist I’ll see tomorrow, and two minutes later:
Did I remember to turn down the heat. Academic, irrational,

exist for thirty-two, tranq for a house with central heating.
Tell me the one about the peanut that choked Plutarch,
tell me about the backflipping slave. Solon invented the euphemism.
Prisons as chambers, policemen as guards. I love you,

I’ve said, enough times to make history, or join it, and I mean it,
did you turn down the heat. Let’s be civilized, said Solon.
And: No man is allowed to sell his daughter unless she’s not a virgin.
He made a law forbidding unions that defeat the object of marriage,

but the object of marriage was an acrophobic turtle at a time
by no means known for steep temple roofs. Four days from now
I’m brushing my teeth when my husband says, I don’t feel
any love from you at all. Solon would answer this usefully.

He made a law stating that immediately upon marriage,
bride and bridegroom should be locked in a chamber to eat a quince.
Or if not immediately, then four days from now. Count no one happy
until he’s dead, said Solon, to the happiest person alive.

Taije Silverman