May 20, 2009

Adultery -- Carol Ann Duffy

[1955–current, British]

Wear dark glasses in the rain.
Regard what was unhurt
as though through a bruise.
Guilt. A sick, green tint.

New gloves, money tucked in the palms,
the handshake crackles. Hands
can do many things. Phone.
Open the wine. Wash themselves. Now

you are naked under your clothes all day,
slim with deceit. Only the once
brings you alone to your knees,
miming, more, more, older and sadder,

creative. Suck a lie with a hole in it
on the way home from a lethal, thrilling night
up against a wall, faster. Language
unpeels a lost cry. You’re a bastard.

Do it do it do it. Sweet darkness
in the afternoon; a voice in your ear
telling you how you are wanted,
which way, now. A telltale clock

wiping the hours from its face, your face
on a white sheet, gasping, radiant, yes.
Pay for it in cash, fiction, cab-fares back
to the life which crumbles like a wedding-cake.

Paranoia for lunch; too much
to drink, as a hand on your thigh
tilts the restaurant. You know all about love,
don’t you. Turn on your beautiful eyes

for a stranger who’s dynamite in bed, again
and again; a slow replay in the kitchen
where the slicing of innocent onions
scalds you to tears. Then, selfish autobiographical sleep

in a marital bed, the tarnished spoon of your body
stirring betrayal, your heart over-ripe at the core.
You’re an expert, darling; your flowers
dumb and explicit on nobody’s birthday.

So write the script – illness and debt,
a ring thrown away in a garden
no moon can heal, your own words
commuting to bile in your mouth, terror –

and all for the same thing twice. And all
for the same thing twice. You did it.
What. Didn’t you. Fuck. Fuck. No. That was
the wrong verb. This is only an abstract noun.

Source: Duffy, CA 1993, Mean Time, Anvil Press Poetry.

3 comments:

Rating said...

2/10

Carol Ann Duffy said...

I actually wrote this poem when I was drunk and high. So please don't read this. And don't make any year 13s read this for their A level English course. As they might actually kill themselves...

October Jade said...

Carol Ann Duffy, don't ever say not to read this. It was beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with the world.