Forsaking All Others Part 1

'NOT that you'll like him,' Nell said,
'No mystery - no romance,
A fine, stern, eagle-like head,
But he simply reeks of finance, -­
Started from nothing - self-made -­
And rather likes you to know it,
And now collects porcelain and jade,
Or some Seventeenth Century poet.

'Married in simpler days,
A poor little wren of a being,
Who exists to pray and praise,
And spends her life agreeing,
Thin and dowdy and pale,
And getting paler and thinner­
Well, the point of this dreary tale
Is I've asked them both to dinner.

'I'd leave her out like a shot,
For I'm not so keen about her,
But, my dear, believe it or not,
He won't dine out without her.
She has that terrible hold
That aging wives exert to
Replace young charms grown old­
Poor health and impeccable virtue.

'Lightly I asked them to dine,
And now I perceive the dangers,
My friends-yours and mine­
Are so terribly rude to strangers.
But you, dear girl, I can trust
To come and be brilliant and tender;
Vamp the man, if you must,
But give an impression of splendor.'

II

LEE sat before her mirror... rouged her lips,
Set dripping diamond earrings in her ears,
Polished a little at her finger tips,
Thought that she did not look her thirty years;

Thought, 'Poor dear Nellie's ill-assorted feasts!
I want to be as helpful as I can
Among that group of men and gods and beasts...
Why does she think I shall not like this man?

She made him sound entrancing... strong and crude,
Successful, dominant...I, who for so long
Have known a somewhat pitiful servitude
To weakness, have no terror of the strong.'
Her maid held up her cloak of furry white,
And gave her money in a golden purse.
She sighed: 'Not even third-rate bridge to-night,
Just third-rate conversation... which is worse.'

III

'NELLIE, I'm sorry I'm late,
Edward, I honestly am.
Just the malignance of fate
I always get caught in a jam
Whenever I'm coming to you.
'Mrs. Wayne back of you, Lee,
And Mr. Wayne.'

'How do you do.
Isn't that cocktail for me?

IV

MENU

CAVIAR, cocktails, soup of black bean,
Shad, Moet-Chandon of 1919,
A saddle of mutton, a stuffed aubergine,
With some creme de menthe jelly of beautiful green,
Avocados and lettuce and cold galantine
And baba au rhum with a sauce grenadine,
Coffee and fruit and some excellent fine.

V

 SOME women - hard, beautiful women - know a way
Of looking up at a man, so gentle and gay,
A magical child-like look that seems to say:
Let us be happy together for an hour, a day,
A night, or forever. Let us yield to the charm.

Lee looked at Wayne and put her hand on his arm,
Under the broadcloth and linen she felt his muscles like steel,
Feeling, she said to herself, as a man's arm ought to feel.
And she glanced at her own hand there, so slim and cool
With its single cabochon emerald, like a deep green pool.
'Shall we go first,' she asked him, 'or let them all go ahead? '
And so they spoke of leading... and being led.

And then she told him a story, heard she didn't know when,
Of an arctic expedition, from which two men
Had got lost and while they were off and away
They met a dog, starving like them and astray...
A clever heroic creature, who in the end
Guided them back, and they loved that dog like a friend; ­
Loved him and worried about him all the way back...
What would he do when he met the head of the pack,
The leader of dogs, the old dog, cruel and stern,
Who brooked no rival. How could this new dog learn...
Himself a leader and used to his own wild way,
How could he learn to be one of the pack and obey?
Would he not fight for mastery... hopeless...they caught their breath.
Were they not leading this friend they loved to death?

And now the crisis was on them... they saw camp now,
Two men in a fragile boat and a dog standing up in the prow.
They pushed the boat as near as they could to the bank,
And someone to help them land shoved out a plank,
The new dog leaped on the plank, and the old dog, bristling and proud
Made one step to meet him in front of the crowd,
And they looked at each other a moment, and the old dog lay on his back,
And the new dog stepped ashore... the head of the pack.
'A very interesting story. Why did you tell it to me? '
Asked Wayne, with his black eyes on her.
'Why do you think? ' asked Lee.

VI

 

CANDLE light beams, flickers and blazes
On panelled pine
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Alice Duer Miller

Alice Duer Miller was an American writer and poet. more…

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"Forsaking All Others Part 1 by Alice Duer Miller" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 18 Jan. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/1460>.

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