In St. Mawes
by Marge Piercy
Rooks were guffawing outside in the oaks
and I ran out to look at their colony,
a word from chess now feathered, black shining
in their effrontery and communal games.
The house was white columned regency
a stairway that rose like a perfect scale
sung by a soprano with silver voice.
We had the best room Byron slept in.
That evening I seduced you successfully
for the first time on that trip.
I thought it was renewal. It was the last
throes, a final rite of no passage.
I suckled hope from your mouth,
I gathered you into me to be reborn
as my lover, my best friend, my peer
but the rooks had the unity I craved.
In the morning’s mist grey light
you were angry I had broken through.
You put on armor of pique. Nits
swirled to be picked and pickled—
always nits can be found under pillows,
in the underwear drawer, tucked in
a passport. I had made love with
the death of love while the rooks cheered.
Copyright © 2002 by Marge Piercy.