Cathexis Northwest Press
By: Allisa Cherry
Viewing porn in which a wife clutches her husband’s face and makes him watch as she gives her neighbor a hand job, I am aroused not by the confusing stretch of entire pink nakedness, the actors throbbing in a knot
like plucked foul, nor by the three veils of voyeurism.
Instead, it is the quality of pretend shame
shifting across the husband’s face, like mist skirting a shallow body of water which moves me.
How he forgets and then remembers to emote
when his wife calls him weak,
when she says, you like that, don’t you?
This world can be hard on a cuckold.
Maybe he gets through this moment
the way I survived my marriage: creating grocery lists,
checking my phone messages, browsing nature clips on the internet where I once found a video of a cuckoo hatching among another bird’s clutch
and was stirred
not by the abandoned bird nor the way it struggled as soon as it emerged,
hopelessly fragile and pink,
to twist and writhe and shove the other eggs from the nest before they hatched.
Sometimes, in my human heart, I resent how nature conspires to feed itself.
But as the cuckoo bulged beyond the constraints
of the bower, a perfect yellow ring grew around her eye,
encircling both mote and beam. And her song grew lovelier, too. Each trill became a hollow reed
for another trill to push through.
Allisa Cherry is a poet living in Portland, OR where she works as a writing tutor and small-scale urban farmer and has recently completed an MFA in poetry at Pacific University. Her work has received Pushcart Prize nominations from San Pedro River Review and High Desert Journal, and is forthcoming in Westchester Review and Tar River Poetry
"I conceived of this poem while I was watching a small documentary on parasitic birds. There was some time lapsed footage of a cuckoo hatchling, not yet feathered, destroying the eggs of its host and I immediately felt this very anthropocentric judgment rooted in a super flimsy morality. It was a natural leap for me to consider the etymology of the word cuckold and my complex feelings about fidelity and the fetishization of infidelity, voyeurism, and the limitations of our understanding of our own natures, each of which has an inherent and uniquely complicated sort of beauty."