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Forsaking All Others Part 4

Alice Duer Miller 1874 (New York) – 1942 (New York)

I

WAYNE was looking near and far
After the theatre to find his car.
He had taken his wife to the play that night;

Broadway was glittering hard and bright
With every sort of electric light­
Green and scarlet and diamond-white;
And moving letters against the sky
Told you exactly the reason why
This or that was the thing to buy.
And suddenly there at his side was Nell
Vainly seeking her car as well
They talked. for a moment... of meeting again...
And how were Edward and Ruth, and then
'I wonder,' said Nell, 'if you ever see
My lovely friend...' 'You mean,' said he,
'That blue-eyed lady I once sat next.. '
'Exactly,' said Nellie. 'I feel so vexed
With Lee. I haven't seen her this season,
And between you and me, I know the reason.'
'Do you indeed? ' said Wayne.'Oh, yes,'
Nell answered. 'I know... at least I guess.
When a woman like that whom I've seen so much
All of a sudden drops out of touch,
Is always busy and never can
Spare you a moment, it means a MAN.'

Wayne did not smile. 'I am sure you are
Right,' he said. 'Do you go so far
In the magic art as to tell us who
The man may be? ' 'I certainly do,'
Said Nell. 'It's that handsome young romantic
Doctor who's driving the ladies frantic,
So that they flock to be cured in shoals
And talk of nothing but sex and souls,
And self-expression, and physical passion..
Of course, no wonder the man's the fashion.'

'Does Mrs. Kent flock? ' 'Oh, no, I meant
They've called him in to take care of Kent.
Imagine the long deep conversations,
The tears, the intimate revelations...
I wish to all ladies, lonely and sad,
Tied to a husband hopelessly mad
A handsome psychiatrist... good or bad.
Oh, there's my car,' and so with a gay
Good night to Wayne she was driven away.

People will come for miles, they say,
To see a man burnt at the stake, yet none
Turned in that crowd to look at one
Standing quietly burning there,
Suffering more than a man can bear,
Consumed with hideous inner fire,
Believing his love a cheat and a liar...
Believing the moment that Nell had spoken,
For that day of all days Lee had broken
A date... at the time he had thought it queer,
And now, by God, it was perfectly clear,
Perfectly clear, no doubt whatever...
A doctor, handsome and young and clever,
With all this rotten erotic learning....

Strange indeed that no head was turning
To watch this gentleman quietly burning,
In a trance of pain he heard Ruth say:
'Well, dear, what did you think of that play? '

II

'HOW could you think such a thing? '
'Try to forgive if you can.'
'Spoiling our beautiful Spring! '
'Well, I am only a man.'

'I will forgive, if I can.'
'Jealousy made me insane.'
'I never spoke to the man.'
'I'll never doubt you again.'

'Jealousy made you insane.'
'Lee, you have much to forgive.'
'Oh, never doubt me again.'
'Never as long as I live.'

'Jim, I have much to forgive.'
'Yes, but I've suffered like hell.'
'Trust me as long as you live.'
'Dearest, I love you too well.'

'Poor darling, going through hell.'
'Spoiling our beautiful Spring.'
'I also love you too well.'
'How could I think such a thing? '

III

LOVERS after a quarrel say to each other lightly:
'Dear, we are closer than ever: I love you better by far;
After the rainstorm is over, the sun shines even more brightly...'
Poor pitiful lovers, trying to hide the unsightly
Stain on the surface of love... the ineffaceable scar.

IV

THE Spring was over, and Summer far advanced,­
Lee spent many a hidden week in town,
Days long and enchanted, and nights entranced,
But one thought would not down:

'Is he content with this snatched and broken life? '
She thought, 'when we might be free?
He cannot love that dowdy middle-aged wife.
Does he really love me? '

She was not burnt by jealousy sudden and hot,
But poisoned and chilled that he would not break
A meagre tie to a wife she knew he could not
Love, - yet would not forsake.

One night at her window, looking over the Park,
With his strong hand on her shoulder prest,
And a thunder-cloud rolling up out of the dark,
Rolling out of the West,

Suddenly she heard herself quoting Macbeth:
' 'To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus.' '
He answered after a pause on a long-drawn breath:
'Safety is not for us.'

V
AND from that moment Lee began - not nagging,
She was too wise for that - but she began
A secret ste
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:02 min read
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Alice Duer Miller

Alice Duer Miller was a writer from the U.S. whose poetry actively influenced political opinion. Her feminist verses made an impact on the suffrage issue, and her verse novel The White Cliffs encouraged U.S. entry into World War II. She also wrote novels and screenplays. more…

All Alice Duer Miller poems | Alice Duer Miller Books

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