Academic journal article TriQuarterly

The Shaping Ground

Academic journal article TriQuarterly

The Shaping Ground

Article excerpt

Outside, the snow is falling, falling. She is reading a fat novel by the fire And he is staring blankly into the flames Like a man who hasn't found his feelings yet. No unreachable itch yet, No desire stirring in his pajama bottoms.

In her abundant novel about British country gentry life, Foxes and hares, incest and frivolity, The deepest winter of the 19th century, and so on, The sexual event happens not spontaneously, but sideways, With cunning, ambitious steps From mansion to mansion across the countryside in snow.

In his wisdom, he knows that desire is sometimes as far away As Wednesday is from Saturday, As far away as Beijing from Istanbul by train, Northwards on the old trade route through Siberia Where cold is so cold you barely mention it, You're only passing through.

The snow is falling like infinite particulars Before they hit the blurring ground. What would it take, she wonders, to get him going? Some small act of generosity? She takes his empty tea cup down the corridor

To the sink, washes it, rinses it, dries it, Puts it in the cabinet. He makes a reasonable mistake In idle conversation, some mis-memory About their honeymoon in 1968, And he apologizes, and she says, "That's O.K.," And doesn't go on to say, Everyone makes a mistake ...

Suddenly, he looks up from the blazing fire And says something he's never said before, ever even thought before: "Honey," he says, "Have you ever taken Jesus into your heart? …

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