The Bigger Half

Miss Monk taught us in first grade
that there is no such thing as “the bigger half.”
Although she was an excellent teacher,
unfailingly cheerful and respectful of all her pupils,
in this case I am quite certain she was wrong.
In the real world, there is always a bigger half.
Nothing can ever be split perfectly,
no matter how hard we try.
(And sometimes, to be honest, we don’t even try.)
This postulate holds true for love as well as physical objects.
No mother ever loved her children equally,
unless the amount of love she held for any of them was zero.
And no two lovers, no matter how much they protest otherwise,
ever felt identically about each other.
There is always the one who yearns more,
the one who does all the chasing,
the one who always picks up the phone
or puts fingers to the keyboard.
Sometimes it seems a burden to be that one,
but it is also a noble cause admired by all.
The real question is this.
How should you behave when you are the runner-up,
the one whose love, as vast as it may be, is always one molecule less,
the one who never quite measures up?
How can you make this daily inequality seem less important
in your own mind, and in your lover’s?
What should you do when the smaller half is yours?

Marne Wilson lives in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Her poems have most recently appeared in Uppagus, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, and The Texas Review. Her chapbook The Bovine Daycare Center was recently published by Finishing Line Press.

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One Response to The Bigger Half

  1. The insight of the poem is true, without question, though the poet leaves us with questions we ought to ponder. The question of the bigger half is not addressed here in its own terms, because as Miss Monk likely meant to convey, when one part is larger or smaller it is no longer “half,” but some other percentage. She was not wrong. Miss Monk’s concern was of language rather than concept, but of course that would not evoke a poem. And the concept of inequality is a very fertile field for poetry.

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