Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Carol Ann Duffy
When you come on Thursday, bring me a letter. We
the language of stuffed birds, teacups. We don’t have
the language of bodies. My husband will be here.
I shall inquire about your wife, stirring his cup
with a thin spoon, and my hand shall not tremble.
Give me the letter as I take your hat. Mention
the cold weather. My skin burns at the sight of you.
We skim the surface, gossip. I baked this cake and you
eat it. Words come from nowhere, drift off
like the smoke from his pipe. Beneath my dress, my
swell for your lips, belly churns to be stilled
by your brown hands. The secret life of Gulliver,
held down by strings of pleasantries. I ache. Later
your letter flares up in the heat and is gone.
Dearest Beloved, pretend I am with you . . . I read
your dark words and do to myself things
you can only imagine. I hardly know myself.
Your soft, white body in my arms . . . When we part,
you kiss my hand, bow from the waist, all passion
patiently restrained. Your servant, Ma’am. Now you
wild phrases of love. The words blur as I cry out once.
Next time we meet, in drawing-room or garden,
passing our letters cautiously between us, our eyes
fixed carefully on legal love, think of me here
on my marriage-bed an hour after you’ve left.
I have called your name over and over in my head
at the point your fiction brings me to. I have kissed
your sweet name on the paper as I knelt by the fire.