Monday, 20 May 2013

The Self-Condemned

Last night as an August warmth
Chilled into September
I completed my education.

Autodidact of sorrows,
Arranging my systems
In exquisite precision

I subjected them
To the test of tears.
They crumbled. In the ruins,

Half-sought, half-forgotten,
Was a word shattered like a
China cup. The word was Love.

For years, shunning
The basking crowd,
I sought for the Good,

Read books and made notes.
A woman – my wife –
Brought me food and listened:

My chin chafing my collar
I informed her of the nature
Of things. As she closed the door

Her eyes were awash.
I considered the facts briefly
But could find no explanation.

One night I started:
I was reading Spinoza
When a thought like a knife

Turned in my brain,
“How hateful
Is an abstract love.”

Longing for her hand,
The shy hiss of her breath,
I ran downstairs

But she had gone.
She had left a note –
“I, too, am human” –

Her suitcase had scuffed the hallway.
Collapsed on the stairs,
Shaking the banisters like a child,

My tears melted her words.
Overhead, swollen like tumours,
My books were suave, replete.

© August 1983


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