Taking Advantage

But that afternoon he asked himself, with his infinite capacity for illusion, if such pitiless indifference might not be a subterfuge for hiding the torments of love.

Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera




You mined her pizza-stuffed body unreservedly,

Equal parts violent,

Equal parts tender.

She didn’t tell you it hurt.

She was just grateful you remembered her name.

You were experiment number three,

Packing and unpacking her,

Stuffing her hesitant, ragdoll limbs with optimistic greed.


The doctor asks, was it penetrative?

She’s unsure what to say,

Because you were mental above physical,

Spiritual, above mental.

Today your face is sun-kissed and carefree,

Today she realises you penetrated her soul,

And she cries, curled like  a snail’s shell,

Because – well, you wanted to talk and she didn’t.

She should [will] stop living by the rules.


She was unsure whether her brothers and sisters would welcome her,

But she was taught to go through God, not man.

Man showed her law,

God showed her grace,

She slept free of shame.


But one month later, she feels her body,

All one hundred-and-something pounds of it,

It feels like guilt when it hangs

heavy like a burden.


He apologised –

No, not quite.

He was good at that – making his words sound apologetic

Without ever uttering the word.

“I hope you don’t think I took advantage.”

She infers, one year later,

That he sobered midway,

and decided continuing was a good idea.

He was experiment number one,

the reason for the others who followed.


Experiment number two cannot be remembered,

It is improper. Wrong. An act of betrayal.

But she needs to remember, at least once.

She remembers the fear of the word “no”.

She is sorry for the hypocrisy,

And she is sorry that he was your husband.

And she is perplexed that his hands know a body,

ashamed of its own mother.

She’d never rejected a man from the bed so assertively.


She is the common denominator,

And in this form she is free from didacticism,

free to blame herself.


The terrible paradox is that she is the experiment.

She always has been.

Her one-hundred-and-something body,

hanging heavy like wet clothes,

doesn’t know how to be otherwise.


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