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Dawn Potter| Nocturne: A Marriage

She is listening to him breathe

this man splayed on a couch

of dust and horsehair

its ragged plush as blue

as a cataract blue as exhaust

blue as her own tight lips


In the ancient night

the vines of summer choke

breath choke memory

blooms fatten and fall

a weasel devours every

chick in the nest


What can she do how can she bear

the sound of his sleep

in and out in and out

his half-life a cough

a sky an unpainted


Copyright 2021 Dawn Potter

Dawn Potter directs the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching, held each summer at Robert Frost’s home in Franconia, New Hampshire. Her books include Chestnut Ridge (Deerbrook Editions, 2019). 

5 comments on “Dawn Potter| Nocturne: A Marriage

  1. Rick Kunz
    July 6, 2021

    If you will forgive a further intrusion –
    Thank you for clearing up the non-autobiographical nature of your poem. (Although there are strains within that could only come from your experiences.) I have some experience with Maine myself – enough to know that prolonged exposure to life in Maine will purge you of a lot of the nonsense with which many occupy themselves. By way of establishing my bona fides, I was born in Biddeford although I have lived most of my life in exile. My father was born and raised in Madison near a place the locals call twelve corners (intersection of Rts 43 and 201). His mother grew up in Athens, just down the road from Harmony.
    I am glad I found your poem as it led me to Tracing Paradise which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have to say I resented it somewhat when it ended as I was completely taken in by how you presented yourself, your views on so many subjects and the revelations you so openly shared. In short, I sincerely appreciate how your mind works and the effort you invested wrestling with Milton.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dawn Potter
    July 5, 2021

    Thanks so much for reading “Nocturne” so carefully. I want to say, right off, that it is not autobiographical but a sort of fictionalized looking–that is, I created characters, versions of whom I had met in real life, parts of whom I embellished. Regarding the book of mine you read: I’m assuming you mean “Tracing Paradise”? Reading “Paradise Lost” offers a lot of food for thought about marriage! But you’re right: a long marriage is so different from the romantic notions of early attachment. And I am interested in watching how people have negotiated it; watching how negotiate it myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. R.A Kunz
    July 4, 2021

    Upon first reading of your poem, I was astonished, used as I am to Hallmark Card mawkishness. “Wow!”, I thought. “Do wives actually think of their husbands in such bleak terms? I had better check with mine.” Then, upon further consideration, I could see that here was a person with the scales removed from her eyes, able to look beyond the manufactured reality and see the actual life beneath. I told myself, “This is someone who has had all the corrosive maudlin scrubbed away with a wire brush.” A rarity! Being now curious, I researched and found your book, ordered, then read it. I could see how such an ethos came about. I swear! – Chapter Four must be required reading for anyone on the cusp of adulthood. It would go a long way to shaping expectations in a more productive direction and alleviate some of the surprise many feel when the glow of getting married has petered out and the actual marriage begins – it surely and necessarily pops that balloon of happily ever after and perfectly illustrates the small moments which are the sinew of a lasting relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on June 16, 2021 by in Health and Nutrition, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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