22 Jan 2014

Against Coupling – Fleur Adcock

[1934–current, born New Zealand, but spent most of life in England]

I write in praise of the solitary act: 
of not feeling a trespassing tongue 
forced into one’s mouth, one’s breath 
smothered, nipples crushed against the 
ribcage, and that metallic tingling 
in the chin set off by a certain odd nerve:

unpleasure. Just to avoid those eyes would help – 
such eyes as a young girl draws life from, 
listening to the vegetal 
rustle within her, as his gaze 
stirs polypal fronds in the obscure 
sea-bed of her body, and her own eyes blur.

There is much to be said for abandoning 
this no longer novel exercise –
for not ‘participating in 
a total experience’ – when 
one feels like the lady in Leeds who 
had seen The Sound of Music eighty-six times;

or more, perhaps, like the school drama mistress 
producing A Midsummer Night’s Dream 
for the seventh year running, with 
yet another cast from 5B. 
Pyramus and Thisbe are dead, 
but the hole in the wall can still be troublesome.

I advise you, then, to embrace it without 
encumbrance. No need to set the scene, 
dress up (or undress), make speeches. 
Five minutes of solitude are 
enough – in the bath, or to fill 
that gap between the Sunday papers and lunch.

Source:   Goodwin, D 2002, 101 Poems That Could Save Your Life: An Anthology of Emotional First Aid, Harper.