When you kissed me it was as if
some one had just stepped lightly out of the room.
How shy I was in any crowd,
and you, how adept!
How I kept you waiting
longer than any boy uncertain of his sex!
Your mother, musical, suicidal,
slept with a thread tied around her nurse’s finger
(so I learned a few details), your rich father
photographed beside his swimming pool….
How we almost ruined each other, you
with your hope of children,
I with my body which I took too seriously;
That stunned room….
A story, like The Garden party,
no longer even possible.
Yet I want to forgive us both
as if it still matters.
Cooper was the author of five books of poetry and a professor of Sarah Lawrence College.