The second stanza says that “she comes to the curb to call the ice-man” and “fish-man”. Later in that same stanza, she is compared to a fallen leaf. The housewife’s husband and his dominance could represent the tree from which the fallen leaf, the housewife, falls. When she goes to the curb, uncorseted and trying to make herself look attractive, as a prostitute does, and calls the men, it could represent how she falls away from her husband (devotion) into the hands of the other men. In a sense, she’s bound to this house that her husband owns and the only way she knows how to experience freedom with all of the limits that her husband has put on her is by cheating on him.
The narrator is watching all of this as he passes by in his car. He compares her to a fallen leaf to suggest that she is “easy” and that he could have sex with her if he really wanted to. In the end, he runs over the dried leaves, which could represent the idea of having sex with her and passes her smiling. He recognizes the opportunity and temptation, but doesn’t give into it.
Ahearn, Barry. "On "the Young Housewife"" 1994. University of Southern Maine. 6 Nov. 2007
"The Poets - William Carlos Williams (1883–1963)." Yahoo! Education. 2005. 6 Nov. 2007 ...