Against Coupling

I write in praise of the solitary act: of not feeling a trespassing tongue forced into one’s mouth, one’s breath smothered, nipples crushed against the ribcage, and that metallic tingling in the the chin set off by a certain odd nerve unpleasure. Just to avoid those eyes would help – such eyes as a young girl draws life from, listening to the vegetal rustle within her, as his gaze stirs polypal fronds in the obscure sea-bed of her body, and her own eyes blur.

There is much to be said for the abandoning this no longer novel exercise – for not “participating a total experience – when one feels like the lady in Leeds who had seen The Sound of Music eighty-six times or more, perhaps like the school drama mistress producing A Midsummer Night's Dream for the seventh year running, with yet another cast from 5B. Pyramus and Thisbe are dead, but the hole in the wall can still be troublesome.

I advise you, then, to embrace it without encumbrance. No need to set the scene, dress up (or undress), make speeches. Five minutes of solitude are enough in the bath, or to fill that gap between the Sunday papers and lunch.

Other works by Fleur Adcock ...