Poem as If Written by the Other Woman

I didn’t know he was married,

didn’t know I wasn’t the only one

who believed he had landed

in my life like an out-of-season

blue heron, singular and sunlit 

at the edge of a lake, a figure 

in a woodblock print,

drawing the eye as if he were 

the source of everything. 

And it seemed that way—

that all the light I had given up

when my own husband left

had been gathered and saved 

by this new man who gazed at me

so long I believed he returned

that light and shone it upon

the world as if in a still life,

the tips of the hickory leaves lit

brilliantly yellow, the maples

stunned orange or red, evergreens 

greener than memory. So 

when he took me from my misery

to the bed I thought was his alone

I gave up every secret, let him unharness

every protection. Months would pass 

before you discovered my presence,

and I yours. Like some fish

rising to the surface to see 

the sky no longer distorted

through the rippled water, 

you are a woman like me 

who did not yet know

how beyond that surface

a man could lift you 

out of your element 

and eat you alive.

 

Andrea Hollander’s first published poem appeared in the Winter 1982 issue of The Georgia Review. Her first full-length poetry collection won the 1993 Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize; her fourth was a finalist for the 2014 Oregon Book Award. Her many other honors include two Pushcart Prizes (in poetry and creative nonfiction) and two fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. After living in the woods of the Arkansas Ozarks for thirty-five years, she moved to downtown Portland, Oregon, in 2011.