The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator's Wife

The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator’s Wife

after Anne Sexton

Quaking
like rockets
about to launch,
the bed and he
are wedded;
though aching to shrill,
I must keep still.

Mustn’t let on
I feel his earth shake.
Mustn’t wonder why
he chooses another body
(his own) over mine; nor why
I allow him his fill.
I must keep still.

And so, we both worship
onanism, and are joined
by this almost-adultery.
The dark,
into which he opens up
and I shun, tests the will.
I must keep still.

But fume away
secretly, an undiscovered fire
patient for its spark,
when only silence
knows my answers or how
broken and alone I am until
I stem my need to keep still.


'The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator's Wife', from Lost Relatives (Steele Roberts, New Zealand, 2011), © Siobhan Harvey 2011, used by permission of the author. Poet’s private recording 2011.

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Books by Siobhan Harvey