The Cuckold

by Con Chapman

The train is late, and so I stop to talk

  with my son's old hockey coach. 

We chat of this and that and

  after a while, he breaks it off

  at another man's approach.


I know the newcomer too, but we do

  not speak.  I had dinner with him once

  years ago, our sons are the same age. 

My family moved and we lost touch;

  in the vogue phrase, we turned the page.


It was an uncomfortable Thanksgiving, I recall;

His ancestors' portraits lined the walls

  in the dining room and the halls.

Later, my wife told me the reason

  for the tense knot in an evening:



  his wife had made love to another man,

  out of spite or lust or to wake him from

  his conventional slumber, we never learned.

              We were there as a foil,
                a first step towards reconciliation,
                unction and oil. We may have helped,

  or at least didn't hurt; we bridged the

  silence that would otherwise have been there.

We did what we could between the soup and the desert.

            The cuckoo lays her egg in the nest of another
             mother, after first pushing out one of that bird's
             eggs.  The egg of the cuckoo matches the one
             displaced in a mimetic fall from grace.



When the young cuckoo is hatched, it

  works its back against every other thing in the nest,

  eggs or chicks.  It gives them a push,

  causing them to fall and die on the ground below.


I wondered if the look in the fellow's eye,

  avoiding my gaze, laughing at his own

  jokes, staring off into the distance,

  was caused by a similar blow.