This poem found its way into my Inbox (via PoemHunter) over the weekend and it was so lovely and sad that I had to share. If you’ve loved and lost or loved and been met by someone whose feelings you think you may have misunderstood, then you may appreciate this one. In any case, I think it’s so fragile and smart. Here it is:
“In the Orchard” by Muriel Stuart
‘I thought you loved me.’ ‘No, it was only fun.’
‘When we stood there, closer than all?’ ‘Well, the harvest moon
Was shining and queer in your hair, and it turned my head.’
‘That made you?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Just the moon and the light it made
Under the tree?’ ‘Well, your mouth, too.’ ‘Yes, my mouth?’
‘And the quiet there that sang like the drum in the booth.
You shouldn’t have danced like that.’ ‘Like what?’ ‘So close,
Whith your head turned up, and the flower in your hair, a rose
That smelt all warm.’ ‘I loved you. I thought you knew
I wouldn’t have danced like that with any but you.’
‘I didn’t know, I thought you knew it was fun.’
‘I thought it was love you meant.’ ‘Well, it’s done.’ ‘Yes, it’s done.
I’ve seen boys stone a blackbird, and watched them drown
A kitten… it clawed at the reeds, and they pushed it down
Into the pool while it screamed. Is that fun, too?’
‘Well, boys are like that… Your brothers…’ ‘Yes, I know.
But you, so lovely and strong! Not you! Not you!’
‘They don’t understand it’s cruel. It’s only a game.’
‘And are girls fun, too?’ ‘No, still in a way it’s the same.
It’s queer and lovely to have a girl…’ ‘Go on.’
‘It makes you mad for a bit to feel she’s your own,
And you laugh and kiss her, and maybe you give her a ring,
But it’s only in fun.’ ‘But I gave you everything.’
‘Well, you shouldn’t have done it. You know what a fellow thinks
When a girl does that.’ ‘Yes, he talks of her over his drinks
And calles her a–’ ‘Stop that now, I thought you knew.’
‘But it wasn’t with anyone else. It was only you.’
‘How did I know? I thought you wanted it too.
I thought you were like the rest. Well, what’s to be done?’
‘To be done’ ‘Is it all right?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Sure?’ ‘Yes, but why?’
‘I don’t know, I thought you where going to cry.
You said you had something to tell me.’ ‘Yes, I know.
It wasn’t anything relly… I think I’ll go.’
‘Yes, it’s late. There’s thunder about, a drop of rain
Fell on my hand in the dark. I’ll see you again
At the dance next week. You’re sure that everything’s right?’
‘Yes,’ ‘Well, I’ll be going.’ ‘Kiss me…’ ‘Good night.’ … ‘Good night.’
Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.
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