The Unfaithful Housewife

T


For Mary Peace
Then I led her to the river
certain she was still a virgin
though she had a husband.
The fourth Friday in July,
as good as on a promise.
The street lights were vanishing
and the crickets flaring up.
Last bend out of town
I brushed her sleepy breasts.
They blossomed of a sudden
like the tips of hyacinths
and the starch of her petticoat
bustled in my ear like silk
slit by a dozen blades.
The pines, minus their halo
of silver, grew huger
and the horizon of dogs
howled a long way from the river.

Past the blackberry bushes,
the rushes and whitethorn,
beneath her thatch of hair,
I made a dip in the sand.
I took off my neckerchief.
She unstrapped her dress.
Me my gun and holster,
she her layers of slips...
Not tuberose, not shell,
has skin as half as smooth
nor does mirror glass
have half the shimmer.
Her hips flitted from me
like a pair of startled tench:
the one full of fire,
the other full of cold.
That night I might
as well have ridden
the pick of the roads
on a mother-of-pearl mare
without bridle or stirrups.
Gentleman that I am,
I won’t say back the scraps
she whispered to me.
It dawned out there
to leave my lip bitten.
Filthy with soil and kisses,
I led her from the river
and the spears of lilies
battled in the air.

I behaved only the way
a blackguard like me behaves.
I offered her a big creel
of hay-colored satins.
I had no wish to fall for her.
She has a husband after all,
though she was still a virgin
when I led her to the river.
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