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When You Say Infidelity
Susan Stenson


it sounds like something in the garden
planted beside foxglove, forget-me-not.
It isn’t beautiful
but friends will recognize
the stem and furry leaves, hungover,
may even whisper its Latin name.
How to classify it?
A border plant?
One that prefers shade?
How to describe the bloom?
The species most likely to thrive,
would grow anywhere, the guidebooks will say—
against the shed out back, under the cozy
light of a neighbour’s kitchen,
in Best Westerns. At a party
where I play piano. Find you upstairs
on a guest bed with a woman
I’ll call Margery. My Margery.
If it were a movie, I could close my eyes,
walk in the garden.
Wouldn’t see Margery planting
roots in that hard place between
the heart and a bad day,
above the trellis,
thin and spare in this light.

From Could Love a Man (Sono Nis Press, 2001).
Used here with the author’s permission.



Susan Stenson is the author of three books of poetry, plus a chapbook, and teaches English and creative writing. Her work has appeared in most Canadian literary magazines and rides the buses throughout British Columbia via the Poetry in Transit program. Awarded numerous prizes, including first place in the Great Canadian Literary Hunt, Susan has been active in Canada’s Random Acts of Poetry program and co-publishes The Claremont Review, a literary magazine for writers aged 13 to 19. She lives "ecstatically," as she terms it, in Victoria, British Columbia, with her family.


Post New Comment:
wendy morton:
one of many great poems from a great poet. Read it outloud to hear its magic.
Posted 05/15/2011 02:59 PM
Julianne Carlile:
Really painful for you, but what a wonderful poem.
Posted 05/15/2011 09:03 AM
Strong images. I liked the poem.
Posted 05/14/2011 11:36 AM
I love it! The opening line is stunning.
Posted 05/12/2011 10:27 PM
powerful poem that so perfectly captures the pain...beautiful!
Posted 05/12/2011 10:56 AM
Wonderful extended metaphor. It really works!
Posted 05/12/2011 10:11 AM
Linda Lee (Konichek):
Wow! Powerful,unique images that capture so much pain. This is an outstanding poem in every way.
Posted 05/12/2011 09:40 AM
Clear-eyed. Her playing the piano downstairs. Strong. My Margery. Unflinching.
Posted 05/12/2011 09:35 AM
I agree! This is such a powerful poem because of the wonderful images that make me feel something--something very tender and sad.
Posted 05/12/2011 08:00 AM
A beautiful poem, "between the heart and a bad day" wow. very nice.
Posted 05/12/2011 07:27 AM

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