Poetry Month 2012. 28: In Defence of Adultery

For some mysterious reason, two of the most popular poetry pages here relate to poems about adultery: Sophie Hannah’s Rubbish at Adultery in which the ‘other woman’ laments that her fling with a married man is soured by his guilt about his wife and kids, and Carol Ann Duffy’s Adultery. You should go read both now, but do come back, as I have more for your adulterous pleasure. This one is by Julia Copus, and I found it in Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times (which I ended up borrowing from the library because my sister has stolen my copy).

In Defence Of Adultery

We don’t fall in love: it rises through us
the way that certain music does –
whether a symphony or ballad –
and it is sepia-coloured,
like tea that stains as it creeps up
the tiny tube-like gaps inside
a cube of sugar lying by a cup.
Yes, love’s like that: just when we least
needed or expected it
a part of us dips into it
by chance or mishap and it seeps
through our capillaries, it clings
inside the chambers of the heart
to atriums and ventricles. We’re
victims, we say: merely vessels
drinking the vanilla scent
of this one’s skin, the lustre
of another’s blue eyes skilfully
darkened with bistre. And whatever
damage might result we’re not
to blame for it: love is an autocrat
and won’t be disobeyed.
Sometimes we almost manage
to convince ourselves of that.

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