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Page 118

Obviously, being here (a blank page) isn't enough
for us. "Wow! I'm here" quickly palls. (See the Americans
on their couches in front of their TVs, being there --
a pallor of pall-bearers.) We want stories, dramas:
"Give me material NOW!" screams our hot-tempered editor,
our internal narrator. So desperate are we for story
that we relish disaster in preference to nothing at all.

I remember the night my first wife confessed
she'd been having an affair for the past year.
("Affair" from the Latin for "to do to" (such a
todo!) -- she was doing it to someone
and the verses of vice.)

We were both sobbing. The tears were hot.
Really they were lukewarm, but they burned me.
I felt all the things I might have expected to feel,
plus something I'd never read about: broken
to pieces, not my heart, but me become fragments
of a continental crust floating about on hot molten stuff
just beneath, a layer of me I'd never known existed.
Intense, complex; thinking this is what death is;
non-sequitur horniness (they're arguing, thinks
my body -- that means they'll make up, and I'll
get laid -- or maybe it's like the hanged man's
erection, a last spasm towards survival), excruciating
tenderness, convulsions of forgiveness,
despair, numbness, not enough numbness,
time bunching up, catching in my throat, then
lurching forward, her face becoming mine,
then distant, then...WHAT A SHOW!

And through it all (here's the point; the point isn't
to delineate disaster -- go have your own disasters;
you can't have mine!) -- through it all, this perverse
exhilaration (SOMEONE'S exhilaration, some unsmashed
atom of me), that this could be happening to me, that,
WOW! I'm a cuckold! (Not those words, but wow!)
And this is it, the end of everything!

It was miserable, but powerful -- as adventurous as,
six years earlier, "She loves me, I love her, I'm a lover,
it's a whole new world!" The end of the world
is always great box office.

Note: Stanza 2: "The verses of vice" are the vice versa of "vice versa". She was doing it to someone, and someone was doing it to her, so these lines, being in a poem, are the verses of vice.

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