After the Argument — A poem by Stephen Dunn


After the Argument

Whoever spoke first would lose something,
that was the stupid
unspoken rule.

The stillness would be a clamor, a capo
on a nerve. He’d stare
out the window,

she’d put away dishes, anything
for some noise. They’d sleep
in different rooms.

The trick was to speak as if you hadn’t
spoken, a comment
so incidental

it wouldn’t be counted as speech.
Or to touch while passing,
an accident

of clothing, billowy sleeve against
rolled-up cuff. They couldn’t
stand hating

each other for more than one day.
Each knew this, each knew
the other’s body

would begin to lean, the voice yearn
for the familiar confluence
of breath and syllable.

When? Who first? It was Yalta, always
on some level the future,
the next time.

This time
there was a cardinal on the bird feeder;
one of them was shameless enough
to say so, the other pleased

to agree. And their sex was a knot
untying itself, a prolonged
coming loose.

— Stephen Dunn

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17 thoughts on “After the Argument — A poem by Stephen Dunn

  1. We are so full of crap when we first get married – I have never do this anymore – we have to just swallow our pride and love each other as much as our time in this earth with allow – great poem – thanks Winifred 😉


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