Infidelities Poem By James McCorkle
Wet air, rain oncoming,
And carrying with it brine
And creosote, harbor and breakwater,
Scent of spray and shipwreck,
Not inland rain. This is air
Hollowed to bear the traces
Of other geographies across the landscape.
With such randomness this scent
Arrives, almost like the discovery
Of an infidelity, unknown until
It surrounds us, the wind blowing
The backs of leaves, silvering
Like fresh spawn when something
Rises suddenly from below them.
The scent of wet air is brief,
Turning dark and thin,
Betraying itself, until it becomes
Memory, unhealed, repeating
Like forsythias, each late April
Blooming across the hillside,
Before sicklewort, larkspur, or yarrow
Begin to cure the air, draw
The wounds dry. Time heals, some
Console. Shafts of hollyhocks
Bloom by deep summer: infusions
Could be made to calm memory
Or dye anger, but past the trees
Lie ruined harbors the air still pulls from.
The world resumes. For one, infidelity
Reveals desire never rests with only one,
And for another, infidelity is
Deportation, a rusted ship waits:
Again, we are meant to learn to suffer
At another’s pleasure, and to enter the world again
As it is, itself betrayed already by those before us.
The hillsides begin their own work of the summer:
Myrtle’s blue covers the ground, the scent of allium
For the one who is faithless, there is nothing
To add, the world resumes with its
Consequences already discounted.
And for the others, their words have been
Pulled from their dark hold, and cast down.
first published in New England Review, vol. 20, no. 2,