Craig Raine


An Attempt At Jealousy


So how is life with your new bloke?
Simpler, I bet. Just one stroke
of his quivering oar and the skin
of the Thames goes into a spin,

eh? How is life with an oarsman? Better?
More in--out? Athletic? Wetter?
When you hear the moan of the rowlocks,
do you urge him on like a cox?

Tell me, is he bright enough to find
that memo-pad you call a mind?
Or has he contrived to bring you out--
given you an in-tray and an out?

How did I ever fall for a paper-clip?
How could I ever listen to office gossip
even in bed and find it so intelligent?
Was is straight biological bent?

I suppose you go jogging together?
Tackle the Ridgeway in nasty weather?
Face force 55 gales and chat about prep
or how you bested that Birmingham rep?

He must be mad with excitement.
So must you. What an incitement
to lust all those press-ups must be.
Or is it just the same? PE?

Tell me, I'm curious. Is it fun
being in love with just anyone?
How do you remember his face
if you meet in a public place?

Perhaps you know him by his shoes?
Or do you sometimes choose
another pinstriped clone
by accident and drag that home

instead? From what you say,
he's perfect. For a Chekhov play.
Tall and dark and brightly dim,
Kulygin's part was made for him.

Imagine your life with a 'beak'.
Week after week after week
like homework or detention;
all that standing to attention

whenever his colleagues drop in
for a spot of what's-your-toxin.
Speech Day, matron, tuck-shop, Christ,
you'll find school fees are over-priced

and leave, but not come back to me.
You've done your bit for poetry.
Words, or deeds? You'll stick to youth.
I'm a stickler for the truth--

which makes me wonder what it was
I loved you for. Tell me, because
now I feel nothing--except regret.
What is it, love, I need to forget?

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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