The Shame of the Adulterer’s Wife


Why is it I feel shame for his having left?

In biblical times wouldn’t the seducer

have been stoned to death? Yet why do I
want to cover my face, the face of my poems

where I proclaimed myself his “current wife”

now fast becoming his “former wife”
far different from his “late wife”

whose photo and urn he has taken with him, having already

set them up once more—I am sure—an everlasting shrine
to The Good Dead Wife?

No. I am just the last in a receding procession of Deceived Women.

Rancorous Women. Ungrateful Women.
Stringy-haired bitches who would grab

any large kitchen knife and gut him like a ravening shark.

Not ashamed to say it. Then of what? Of being The Scorned One?
The Spurned Woman? Wife? Mother and son as detritus?

The cast aside? The obliterated? The erased? Lilith?


Even my gift to him for his fiftieth—
a dimpled d’Anjou pear

monumental in its Gothic frame—

left behind. Even last summer’s
last desperate offering—chocolate hearts wrapped in gold foil—

left in the cheese drawer to grow colder each day.

How can I eat them?
How can I not throw them away?

Now that I shimmy

shake every limb and ligament—rising and singing:

lonely, lonely but sadly joyous each morning with the dog
lapping my face, my son—an abandoned Telemachus—

roosting on the couch. Now, when I sew, I don’t take

my stitching out. Am beginning to conjure
suitors with my new necklaces and neckline. Am I

ashamed of having groveled in vain for his heart’s return?

Ashamed at my own rejoicing I am free of him? Ashamed
I had sung his praises even after realizing I had been

betrayed? A shame, isn’t it, to waste more thought and time

on what’s beyond repair. Why wear the letter “A” (it’s pinned on him)?
Why not choose “S” for Sharon, Seductress, for the Sage

I’m burning in this white room of the page to clear

out—to smudge with smoldering his name (For shame!)
and any stock epithets upon me that remain.