The image could be a Vermeer. He sits by the window, peeling an orange. The afternoon light lacquers him pale, white. Ten years of being his wife and my stomach still twists at the sight of him. Did Vermeer even paint men? There was The Astronomer, there were self-portraits. The newspaper is open in front of him, yesterday’s news. He reads, dropping his peel onto the paper. I pull my cardigan tighter around me and enter the kitchen where he sits. He does not look up. I take the chicken from the fridge and under the plastic it is pimpled, plucked, every single feather gone. By this evening, the chicken will be roasted gold and I will carve it into pieces. We will eat, my gut clenching over and over, as if I am on a boat that sways on a swell. I will tell him something I read today, about why stars explode, or the lifespan of a comet, or how Mars came to have five, giant impact scars, or for how long the sun will last. They will be facts about the cosmos. They will be important but seem inconsequential, because we cannot see any of this, we can only know it. He will smile, but perhaps only at my effort, my endless fucking effort. For nothing I say or do can take away what he did, what he does, who he thinks of, what he thinks I do not know. The chicken is white-blue, the wings and legs folded into the body. I tell myself where the head used to be. I cut away the plastic—its cold, clammy, sticky, chickeny flesh—and for the millionth time I debate the right and wrong of eating meat and whether it would be better to go without.

Image: section of The Glass of Wine, Jan Vermeer van Delft circa 1661.