Guest poem sent in by Sarah Korah
(Poem #1728) The Stories
I was unfaithful to you last week. Thought I tried to be true to the beautiful vagaries of our unauthorized love, I told a stranger our story, arranging and rearranging us until we were orderly, reduced. I didn't want to sleep with this stranger. I wanted, I think, to see her yield, to sense her body's musculature, her history of sane resistance become pliable, as yours had twenty-two years ago. I told her we met in parks and rest stops along highways. Once, deep in the woods, a blanket over stones and dirt. I said that you were, finally, my failure of nerve, made to the contours of my body, so wrongly good for me I had to give you up. Listening to myself, it seemed as if I were still inconsolable, and I knew the seductiveness in that, knew when she'd try to console me I'd allow her the tiniest of victories. I told her about Laguna, the ruins we made of each other. To be undone -- I said I learned that's what I'd always wanted. We were on a train from Boston to New York, this stanger and I, the compartment to ourselves. I don't have to point out to you the erotics of such a space. We'd been speaking of our marriages, the odd triumphs of their durations. "Once....," I said, and my betrayal began, and did not end. She had a story, too. Mine seemed to coax hers out. There was this man she'd meet every workday Thursday at noon. For three years, every Thursday except Thanksgiving. She couldn't bear it anymore, she said, the lies, the coming home. Ended, she said. Happiest years of my life, she said. At that moment (you understand) we had to hug, but that's all we did. It hardly matters. We were in each other's sanctums, among the keepsakes, we'd gone where most sex cannot go. I could say that telling her our story was a way of bringing you back to life, and for a while it was, a memorial made of memory and its words. But here's what I knew: Watching her react, I was sure I'd tell our story again, to others. I understood how it could be taken to the bank, and I feared I might not ever again feel enough to know when to stop.
I once watched in stunned silence as a girl in our bus gave the driver a detailed account of what was going wrong in her life. It made me wince.. and also wonder if it's somehow easier for people to reveal their innermost thoughts and fears to absolute strangers ? Do public dissemblers feel embarrassed later on? Does talking in public help them gain a new perspective.. or is it merely addictive? Trust Stephen Dunn to come up with a beautiful poem on the topic. The day a cherished memory becomes an 'orderly, reduced' story, something has slowly, but surely, changed.. Sarah Korah