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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, August 5, 2016.
About this Poem 

“I wrote this poem in an attempt to explore heartbreak within the context of devotion, mysogyny, heteronormativity. How tragic I find our policed desires. I have often wondered who the beloved truly is, one’s lover or God Herself? Is the lover God’s face in drag—as so many religions suggest? And if so, how can we treat God so poorly, so cowardly? Moreover, how can God treat us with the same tired cowardice? That we run from love is no surprise. That we do so, even as we know that, quite possibly, it might be our only door is existential suicide. What quality of self can remain? And how does one reconcile all these mirrors? How can we create a place where love is not molested by history?
—Robin Coste Lewis


God goes out for whiskey Friday night,
Staggers back Monday morning
Empty-handed, no explanation.

After three nights of not sleeping,
Three nights of listening for
His footsteps, His mules sliding

Deftly under my bed, I stand
At the stove, giving him my back,
Wearing the same tight, tacky dress, same slip,

Same seamed stockings I’d put on before He left.
He leans on the kitchen table, waiting
For me to make him His coffee.  

I watch the water boil,  
Refuse to turn around,
Wonder how to leave Him. 

Woman, He slurs, when have I ever done
What you wanted me to do?

Copyright © 2016 by Robin Coste Lewis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 5, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Robin Coste Lewis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 5, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Robin Coste Lewis

Robin Coste Lewis

Robin Coste Lewis is the author of Voyage of the Sable Venus (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), winner of the National Book Award in poetry.

by this poet


"...women don't want the men to go into the
bush because the women will only be raped but
the men will be killed...I have seen a woman
who was caught in the bush by several men.
They tied her legs to two trees while she was
standing. They raped her many times


Last summer, two discrete young snakes left their skin on my small porch, two mornings in a row. Being post-modern now, I pretended as if I did not see them, nor understand what I knew to be circling inside me.  Instead, every hour I told my son to stop with his incessant back-chat. I peeled a banana.  And cursed

Pleasure is black.

I no longer imagine

        where my body
        stops or begins.

Skin transparent.
Face speckled

by the spit
of several centuries.

All the borders stare at the same fires.

Oh Mamere,

        I'm sorry.

Here I am.