The Pathologist’s Wife (or, When My Daughter Leaves the House I Will Go Watch Baby Sea-Turtles Being Born in Savannah)

By Jeff Tigchelaar 

Featured Art: American Gothic by Jason Douglas and Wendy Minor Viny

Volunteer vacations. That’s what

I’ll do, so help me. Go away

for a week at a time or two. You know, have fun,

help out. Save some

baby turtles. And I’m not going

to ask. It’s my money too. Money’s not

an issue. My husband’s

a doctor. Well not

just a doctor, my Lord: a forensic pathologist.

More of a scientist, really. He puts away

murderers. We’ve had – he’s had

death threats. We’re absolutely

not in the phone book. And he is

so addicted to his work. He’s always thought

he can just hand me money and

that’s it. Though, he does expect his


His meals! Can you believe

there’s men like that still? The twenty-first

century. But that’s my role. Cooking

and cleaning. And raising

our daughter, of course. That’s been

my job for sixteen years. My Princess.

My life. I’ve never had

to work.



She’s going soon, though.

She’ll have to. She’s a senior. And she’s so

talented. Where do I begin? Singing dancing acting

gymnastics debate violin Jesus where does it leave me

when she leaves me? I can’t be

alone with him. He’s not even there

to not get along with.

If I get upset or try to talk, he sends me off

to the condo. Oh boy,

Orlando. Says “Go

take some time to yourself.”

We don’t even get to fight.


I’ll tell you something I haven’t told him, though.

Last time down there, I got together

with a guy I knew in high school.

He’s a former Major League Baseball player and I will die

before I tell you his name but he looked me up on Facebook

and drove the six hours to Orlando but I told him,

I said “T.J. I am married and you’re a hot mess.

You’ve got two daughters and three exes and I’m not

the least bit available.”

But get this: “I’m younger and richer

than your husband,” he says, “and I’ve been retired

for fifteen years.”


Can you believe

there’s men like that?  I told him he could

forget it. I’ve got my daughter and I’ve still got

my husband and a

vow is supposed to be forever, damn it.

I want to go home and have

a nice fresh fight. Pineapples

and cherries on top. See if he loves me

enough to do that.

If not, who cares. I’m there

for my daughter. Although – my God.

She’s going.  

I know it’s coming.

I can’t have her forever. Right?

Jeff Tigchelaar’s poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, North American Review, Pleiades, Court Green, Hunger Mountain, Harpur Palate, and The Laurel Review, and in anthologies such as Verse Daily, Best New Poets, and New Poetry from the Midwest. His first book, Certain Streets at an Uncertain Hour, won the 2016 Kansas Authors Club Nelson Poetry Book Award. Recently, he was runner-up for the 2019 Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry, and a finalist in the Chad Walsh Chapbook Series.

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