The Third Lesson: Betrayal

by Deborah Pope

Let the wells
          of our love
                    sicken

the forest
         of our refuge
                    flame

let the fruit
         of our desire
                     be as dust and barren

let there be
         bitterness
                    anew with every sun

hatred
         heralded
                     as rain

may the cradle
         of our walls falter
                    and the seas writhe

may the moon
         be riven
                    and the stars blister

and whatever sang
         our joy
                    bite its tongue in two

and wail.


Deborah Pope has published three books of poems, Fanatic Heart, Mortal World, and Falling Out of the Sky, all from LSU Press, as well as one volume of criticism, A Separate Vision: Isolation in Contemporary Women’s Poetry (LSU, 1984). She edited the collection Ties That Bind: Essays on Mothering and Patriarchy (University of Chicago Press, 1990). Currently, she teaches at Duke University.

Poem from Falling Out of the Sky (LSU Press, 1999).