Arthur Boyd – Lovers in a Boat
“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.” *
After our first meeting I thought, Shit, I will never see her again. Then she sent me a message shall we have coffee before I go home, and so I rang her. She answered from where she was buying boots, it was her birthday, her present to herself she said, and we arranged a day and time and I thought, she feels it too. It entered her when it entered me. That first moment when I saw her and thought, she’s lovely, so lovely, and permitted myself one gentle touch to her forearm as I told her I’d been worried she might think I was an Internet predator, and she laughed and that was the first time I heard her laugh.
Why do you want this with me?
Because I can make your breasts swell and your cunt wet from a thousand miles away. Because, you.
I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I am the kind of woman who can do this. It will take me to a very dark place. And then?
Don’t give up on me. I can’t bear to lose you. If it gets too difficult tell me, and we’ll sort it out. I can’t bear to lose you. I was so afraid you would be too good to be true for me. This is the email in which you tell me it’s over. That’s what I fear every time I see your name in my inbox. She is leaving me.
My husband is dying. I am making myself read his letters, years of letters from exotic places. They all begin, My darling wife. My darling wife…
If you had met me when your husband was well and with you, you would still have loved me wouldn’t you?
No. I might have been drawn to you. But there was no room in my heart or mind or body for anyone but him. It is too cruel, for someone whose life is already taken up to invade another’s. That isn’t love. To cause that much harm isn’t love. Love is to refuse the opportunity to harm. Isn’t it?
I know we are both leaving early today and there is no time for our morning sexy chat. I just wanted our thoughts to touch. Our thoughts to touch. Our thoughts to touch.
I don’t know this at the beginning and I won’t know it for a long time to come, but I am vulnerable and half broken before this affair even begins, judgement askew in a mind and body disturbed by loss incremental and unrelenting. He is a good person he tells me, but sometimes people who believe themselves to be good do the most harm, so blinded by belief in their goodness they are unable to see their capacity to injure.
You have given me a new lease on life. We are like teenagers. You are so beautiful. Do you think, are you game, would you send me photos? To help with my imagining?
You know. Not of your toes.
I think about you every waking minute. I am in the hardware store, staring at the shelves, wondering what it is I came here to buy. Thinking about you. I am at lunch with family and friends. Trying to have conversations while thinking about you. I am obsessed. Your photos are so beautiful. Your breasts so shapely, so full, so firm. Can I suckle? Will you feed me? It would be heaven, fucking you as we travelled down the Mekong. Heaven.
And how I love your voice. I long to hear your voice. Always. Your voice.
“Woman, I would have been your child, to drink the milk of your breasts as from a well, to see and feel you at my side and have you in your gold laughter and your crystal voice.”
I can feel him in my blood. It’s cellular, he said, what happened when I first kissed you was a cellular exchange. His words have such power. Does he know the power of words? Do any of us really understand the power of words? Do we understand when we say I love you that one day we may be obliged to say I don’t love you anymore, or worse, withdraw into silence because we lack the courage to speak the truth?
“…we cannot tell the truth. It is forbidden because it hurts everyone. We never say the truth, we must lie, mostly as a result of our two needs: our need for love and cowardice.”
I was too forensic he told me, which to me meant my meticulous attention to the implications of the heart’s acts of love and treachery disturbed him. You take a word, one word and interrogate it, he complained. I want to know details, I told him. I want accuracy. I want the truth at the heart of the matter. You use words to obfuscate, I told him. I use them to light my way. Language is a holy lamp burning in the dark, I told him. It’s the one thing we have that can bring us close to the truthfulness of something. I can’t help it, I said. I have to know what you mean. You say you dislike giving glib answers. But what you think so carefully about is not how to clarify your answer, but how to make a mystery with your words. I said all this and he said you are making me anxious. When we get into this kind of mess, it makes me so anxious I think it will kill me. So I tried to stop my forensic ways but I might as well have tried to stop breathing. There is the truth of a situation. Or there is a certain dark thing. Or there is both.
“Had to go crazy to love you / had to go down to the pit / had to do time in the tower / begging my crazy to quit / had to go crazy to love you / you who were never the one…
You always say things I’ve never thought of he told me, with some indignation because he usually believed himself to be the smartest person in the room.
I come to watch your exercise class. It is a hot day and I can see that you are sweating. As soon as you finish I hurry you out. You protest that you need a shower, but I say “no time” and rush you back to the bedroom. I pull your clothes off, then my own and push you back on the bed, startling you with my urgency.
Your cunt is already wide open and wet, my cock hard and wet and I thrust straight into to you. You match my thrusts with your pelvic movements. We are both sweating profusely now, feeling the wetness between our bellies as they move together and apart, in rhythm.
The sweat is dripping from my nipples onto your face, and you lift your head up and lick the sweat from them with your tongue. I share the need, and, your arms being crossed behind your head for support, I can lick the sweat from your armpits, savouring the rich salty taste.
This sharing drives us both into a final frenzy and we come. I am spent, all my cum drawn into your cunt by your strong contractions. We collapse back side by side, exhausted but satisfied and well nourished, our tongues licking our lips to enjoy the last taste of each other.
After a little sleep to recover, we head at last for the shower. Warm water cascades between our bodies, splashing from one to the other.
I soap your wonderful breasts, marvelling at their firmness and fullness, tracing their roundness over and over with my soapy hand. But not touching your nipples, although you thrust forward, wanting to feel my hands on them.
Instead my hands move down to soap your smooth belly, as yours do the same to mine. You soap my cock and balls, and I am amazed to discover, having thought them empty, that they seem full again, and my cock is thrusting against your hand.
My hand moves down to soap your cunt, still swollen it seems from the earlier fuck. As I soap you I feel your clitoris become a hard presence against my hand. I turn you around to soap your back. All the way down to your lovely firm round arse. It is too much, and I turn you round and lift you so I can once again enter your cunt.
You gasp with pleasure then tell me I can come and I do, filling you. My cock softens inside you. Then I slip him out and lower you to the floor. We turn off the water and dry each other, our bodies warm and glowing.
We head for our bed, unaccountably needing to sleep in each other’s arms.
No one has ever before written such things to me. My husband’s love letters were chaste, telling me that he longed for me, yearned for his beloved. My beloved, he called me. Don’t turn your face away from me, my beloved, he begged when we were at odds. Desire has never come to me in the form of the written word and I am astounded, breathless, and not a little afraid of the fierceness it arouses in me. We meet, and our tongues. Our tongues. Every bodily sensation distils itself in our tongues and I think, later, that is a new and superior way to use our tongues to tell the truth.
“We are in the process of descending into the depths of the heart. To where bodies communicate with each other.”
Why do you want this with me? Why are you taking these risks? Why, when you know it has carnage of the heart written all over it?
Because you are good for me. And because these 24 hours, thinking you’d gone has put a lot of strain on me physically (and continues to) as well as mentally. And because I think we are good for each other. Mostly.
The thought of seeing you wake up, dishevelled, warm and still sleepy, wearing only a tee shirt, your cunt wet, your fingers reaching lazily for your clit, me taking your hand and licking your juices from your fingers
was driving me wild with desire.
I can’t decide whether I am more obsessed by your cunt or your breasts. My lovely. My beautiful. You.
He said, I always tell my wife I am meeting you. I don’t tell lies. I am astounded by this last statement. I think about it for a long time. I realise that he uses his words to tell one small truth that will obfuscate the large lie. He lies like a politician, like the Cardinal Pell. He tells his wife he is meeting me, which is the truth, but he omits the nature and content of the meeting, the forensics, the accuracy, the truth of it. After he’s been caught he tells me the details don’t matter. But I am the details. Everything that has been between us is in the details. It is the details that break everybody’s hearts, one way or another. It is another lie, to say the details don’t matter. The truth is, they matter more than anything else, they hold everyone’s fate in the balance, no wonder you can’t write fiction, I tell him scornfully, when you think the details don’t matter. What kind of intelligent person, I demand, tells himself details don’t matter?
His wife tells me later that she knew all along, he only thought he was deceiving her. She shouts at me. I shout back. Finally, we stop shouting and listen to one another. So, why, I want to know. If you knew, why did you let him go unchallenged for so long? Because you are the only one I’ve ever thought he would leave me for, she says. The only one? There are others? He is a serial adulterer? He told me you are the most intelligent woman he’s ever met, she says. He’s never given me credit for my intelligence, she adds. He doesn’t even know me. I wanted to do medicine but I met him too soon. I typed his PhD. Family is everything. Depends on the nature of the family, I think, but do not say. He is an honourable man, she tells me, I know you don’t think so, but he is. An honourable man? He has deceived you for all this time, I retort. He didn’t deceive me, I knew, she cried, but he thought he was deceiving you, it was his intention to deceive you, I insist. I am so angry, she says, sometimes I shake with rage. He’s gone deaf, she tells me, he’s lost hearing in his one good ear. That’s lucky, I reply, he can’t hear either of us. Then I remember how years ago when I confronted my mother about her complicity in her husband’s abuse of me she ran out of the room and the next day went stone deaf. No cause could be found for her sudden loss of hearing, and eventually it was diagnosed as hysterical deafness. Protecting her from what she couldn’t bear to hear. He just needs another grommet, his wife said. That’s how she introduced herself to me on the phone. This is (his) wife. I stayed up all night reading your blog, she told me. I suppose you’re curious about me, I said. She yelled: He wouldn’t go out with me for any of our anniversaries, or my birthday because he all he wanted was to be communicating with you! And now he is depressed and anxious and deaf! He sleeps all day! He misses you! He cares about you! He is suffering I am making sure he is suffering I can see it in his face. Good, I tell her. I like you. I like you too, she says.
You’ve been through this, she said, I read about it on your blog. How did you manage? It wasn’t quite the same, I told her. It was over when I found out about it. I never feared he would leave me. Sexual infidelity is one thing and it’s awful. But emotional infidelity, like this is?
If I’d thought he loved someone else I would have left him, I told her. I couldn’t bear to live with anyone who loved somebody else. Who was thinking about her all the time. My husband told me this about his lover: she was never in my imagination. You, my wife, are always in my imagination.
I desire you infinitely. How beautiful you are. How much we manage to talk and communicate without setting out to talk. How anxious I get and how you reassure and comfort me. How well we have come to understand each other now. How good it will be to hear your voice again. How beautiful you are. How I love you. How I adore you. Night night, gorgeous lady with the beautiful breasts.
“How I would love you woman, how I would love you,/ love you as no one ever did! / Die and still /love you more,/And still /love you more, /and more.”
If a man or a woman chooses marriage, there are words he or she should never speak other than to their beloved. And if he or she does speak them they kill with them, perhaps one, perhaps two, perhaps several people. There was one thing and one thing only I knew for certain about him. That he was capable of terrible betrayal. When he took my hand in the café and gazed at me with the particular intensity that means only one thing, I should have said, no. I should have said what I’ve said before: only if your wife says it’s ok. A constellation of extraordinary circumstances determined that I would love him. I am suffering also, I told his wife. Badly. Good, she said. I know, I said. I know.
“I remembered you with my soul clenched.”
*In order of appearance in the text:
Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets
Pablo Neruda, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda
Hélène Cixous, The Book of Promethea
Leonard Cohen, Had to go Crazy to Love You
Hélène Cixous, The Book of Promethea
Pablo Neruda, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair