the invitation to cut

by nike, August 30, 2014

Old-broken-keyboardI remember discovering this poem once, which evoked that particular kind of feeling – a cross between pain, nostalgia and something else – that is akin to the feeling you get when you put your tongue into the place where your tooth used to be.

This was many years ago. It was a poem by C. D. Wright – Tours – a reading of which was filmed for the United States of Poetry. This is the final stanza:

The last black key
She presses stays down, makes no sound
Someone putting their tongue where their tooth had been.

Today, I opened a book that’s been on the shelf in my new home for weeks now. And which I’ve been avoiding. My Former Partner read this book when it was still in manuscript form. At that stage, I didn’t know that she was having an affair with the author. Perhaps it hadn’t yet begun. Perhaps the sharing of the manuscript was a part of the seduction.

it doesn’t pay
to think about these

My FP told me there was a character in this as-yet-unpublished work that the author had told her was based on her, that was her, but that I shouldn’t bother reading it. It was based on a dream, she said. Or something like that. I should wait till the book came out, in its edited form. My FP told me that the author had asked her whether she should cut the character that was based on her.

Today, I am alone in the house. The lunch I thought I was having is cancelled. It is cold. I have assignments to mark; a novel to work on. Washing and ironing and vacuuming that will not do themselves. I open the book and flick through it until I find the passage with the character based on my FP.

I find her, in this other woman’s words.

The character has ‘a long-term partner, ten years or more’ but she has been hooking up with the narrator for ‘months now’; they meet for coffee, and sex.

I read the passage over
and over

[two paragraphs
244 words
two bodies
beneath a freeway]

putting my tongue
where my heart
used to be

 It is something, I suppose, to have their affair immortalised in print.

It could, so easily, have been cut away.


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