by Marge Piercy, from The Moon is Always Female
Did you love him? you stab the old
photographs. And him? And him? And her?
Oh, you shrug then. What does it mean?
Your love comes round regularly as the truck
that sweeps the streets, welcome but
hardly monumental. It stirs up the dust,
it goes on its way, doing some kind
of temporary good, busy, truculent.
You were only eight years old then, I say,
how could I love you if I'd been mean
and proper, if I'd rationed myself
like some prescription drug, if I'd frozen
on grit at the core waiting for the perfect
sun to melt me. I'm a survivor, a scavenger
and I make the best I can out of the daily
disaster, I mold my icons out of newspaper mache.
How could you make love to him in an elevator
you say. But it was a freight elevator
I say, it went up very slowly, you could lock
it between floors. Besides that was a decade
ago, I was more adventurist then. Oh, you say,
so you wouldn't fuck me in an elevator, I see.
I like my comfort better now, I say, but you
are my only comfort. Have you an elevator in mind?
Look at this book, you say, you wrote him
twenty-two love poems. How could you? And publish
them. They weren't all to him, I say, I was busy
that year. And they're good, aren't they? Still?
Oh, so it's just literature, the ones you write
me. Words. But I write the truth out of my life
and if some truths are truer than others in
the long run, the short sprint makes poems too.
Listen, you idiot, we're crawling up the far
slope of our third year and still sometimes
I weep after we make love. It is love we make
and it feeds me daily like a good cow.
I'm an old tart and you come late and I have
loyalties scattered over the landscape like lots
I bought and pay taxes on still, but it's you
and Robert I live with, live in, live by.
Because we work together we are obscurely
joined deep in the soil, deep in the water
table where the pure vulnerable stream
flows in the dark sustaining all life. In dreams
you walk in my head arguing, we gallop
on thornapple quests, we lie in each other's
arms. What a richly colored strong warm coat
is woven when love is the warp and work is the woof.