XII. Here’s Our Clean Business Now Let’s Go Down the Hall to the Black Room Where I Make My Real Money
You want to see how things were going from the husband’s point of view---
let’s go round the back,
there stands the wife
gripping herself at the elbows and facing the husband.
Not tears he is saying, not tears again. But still they fall.
She is watching him.
I’m sorry he says. Do you believe me.
I never wanted to harm you.
This is banal. It’s like Beckett. Say something!
your taxi is here she said.
He looked down at the street. She was right. It stung him,
the pathos of her keen hearing.
There she stood a person with particular traits,
a certain heart, life beating on its way in her.
He signals to the driver, five minutes.
Now her tears have stopped.
What will she do after I go? he wonders. Her evening. It closed his breath.
Her strange evening.
Well he said.
Do you know she began.
If I could kill you I would then have to make another exactly like you.
To tell it to.
Perfection rested on them for a moment like calm on a lake.
Beauty does not rest.
The husband touched his wife’s temple
--Anne Carson, The Beauty of the Husband: a fictional essay in 29 tangos
Jumping from a very old portrait to a very new one. Though of course few can rival Chaucer, I think this poem is very good, especially the tone that it strikes, one that is at once modern and self-consciously dramatic. A melodrama, in fact! Though the events of this poem are serious, it seems, the barefaced telling of these emotions, the broken structuring of the stanzas, and the choppy lines take away from any real buildup for the poem. It's a relief from poems that take themselves so seriously. This one does to such an extent that we are relieved, it seems.