Stephen Dunn


What Goes On - Poem by Stephen Dunn

After the affair and the moving out,
after the destructive revivifying passion,
we watched her life quiet

into a new one, her lover more and more
on its periphery. She spent many nights
alone, happy for the narcosis

of the television. When she got cancer
she kept it to herself until she couldn't
keep it from anyone. The chemo debilitated
and saved her, and one day

her husband asked her to come back —
his wife, who after all had only fallen
in love as anyone might
who hadn't been in love in a while —

and he held her, so different now,
so thin, her hair just partially
grown back. He held her like a new woman

and what she felt
felt almost as good as love had,
and each of them called it love
because precision didn't matter anymore.

And we who'd been part of it,
often rejoicing with one
and consoling the other,

we who had seen her truly alive
and then merely alive,
what could we do but revise
our phone book, our hearts,

offer a little toast to what goes on.

Topic(s) of this poem: infidelity


Comments about What Goes On by Stephen Dunn

  • Susan Williams (2/17/2016 4:55:00 PM)

    It is a very illuminating passage about infidelity and cancer and love and marriage and how we find our own paths through life and sometimes the humblest ones are the most noble. (Report)Reply

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  • Edward Kofi Louis (6/8/2015 7:28:00 AM)

    Offer a little toast to what goes on with the muse of life. Nice work. (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
Read all 2 comments »



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Poem Submitted: Monday, June 8, 2015



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