Well, there’s something noble—I guess—in turning away from that next affair, especially when she’s married, and he’s married to a beautiful, young, volcanic Irish woman, and he succumbed so many times before anyway, unfaithfulness to those previous other wives a previous mode of his being. The poem is a pretty flat description of a soiree’s aftermath, sticking around and then: “The animal moment, when he sorted out her tail / in a rump session with the vivid hostess.” Collective eye rolls here, I have to imagine, and it doesn’t do much more for me than a trigger a half-mirthless chuckle. Whatever. A “rump session”? Really? Well, she said, apparently, “I’d like to have your baby, but, she moaned, / I’m married.” Takes two to tango, no doubt about it. Sounds like a pretty clear rump session offer to me.
He realizes he couldn’t have forgiven himself nor atoned, so the man regretfully passes on the pass. Then he writes a poem about it, and here I sit, 50 years later, thinking, you published this? Can we get back to the Cold War, please? Racial injustice? Carnage in Vietnam? Nuclear annihilation? Anything. Pull your damn pants up for Chrissake.
“—I knew what I knew when I knew when I was astray,” he admits. “all those bright painful years, forgiving all / but when Henry & his wives came to blows.” Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks. Maybe the old goat learned something.
Henry’s blackface conscience pipes up with a comment that he’s strong on morals these days, eh? “It’s good to be faithful but it ain’t natural.” Evolutionary behaviorists aren’t quite unanimous on this one, from what I gather. A friend remarked yesterday that sexist jerks are a dime a dozen. We’re to admire it when he makes an effort to grow up a bit? Like, thirty years too late? I am bored. And to think the last third of my coffee got cold. But, Mr. Bones, you strikes me as intolerant. That’s why god invented microwave ovens & such.
Heading back to the kitchen…