The Writers’ Circle: The poet’s mistress


By Betty Slade
Special to The PREVIEW

In our “Profound Poet’s” Cottage, a red writing desk stands with the words, “The Poet’s Mistress.” People chuckle and I chuckle at being so clever.

So, who is this mistress who steals the heart of the poet? She is an uncontrollable creative passion who wakes him in the middle of the night. She drives him from his warm bed to his altar, where he caresses the keyboard, plays with a sentence, a phrase or a twist of words, until he expresses his inner, deepest feelings. Hours steal away and the poet delights to hide where no one is welcome until he sucks the sweet nectar from the passion fruit.

This passion starts with a slight flirtation with words, playful words, and even silly words. Then poignant words with hidden meanings pierce his soul. The chemistry between the poet and his pursued words is electrifying.

He loves the emotions she stirs inside of him and finds reasons to be near her. An affair crouches at his door and he opens to it. He argues only his mistress understands him.

It isn’t long until she pursues him in a fatal attraction. Until then, he chases after a forbidden and exciting thrill. He doesn’t understand her subtleness. He stares into empty space and tries to hide his preoccupation. Certain words play over and over again in his head; harmless words, he convinces himself.

And where is his wife? She stands in the background and allows him time and space. She sleeps alone as this deceptive mistress steals her husband’s affections. His wife calls to him in the next room, “When are you coming to bed?” And he responds, “Just a minute.” But that minute turns into hours.

His wife feels isolated and alone. The fact he is in the same house emphasizes her loneliness. She’s empty inside while others rave how lucky she is to be married to this talented man.

Words fall from a silver tongue, but those words are not meant for her. They are his words and, one day, they will tell the world someone great has passed by.

Yes, the mistress calls to his pride and arrogance. She makes him feel virile. He holds to his conviction, he must guard his time, energy and demand on his creative space. He refuses to think he is selfish even when his wife warns him he has lost her affection. As long as she is around, she meets his needs. After all, she is his wife.

The poet is bound with ropes of deception that lasso figments of his imagination. He lacks character within, but the height of his passion brings great self-satisfaction and his family pales in comparison. He tries to show interest in their mundane, everyday existence. Even family time is gruesome as they insist upon interaction. He explains his emotions and feelings, only to get in his way and crowd his thoughts.

His family indulges him and continues to stand behind him. They go about their lives as he runs to his altar where his god demands his soul. The world does revolve around him. No one can compete with the brightness of his next stroke of genius.

His wife is spent and angry. She nags, begs, turns away, but her efforts are futile. The answer comes from the poet who carries the fire in his bosom. He recognizes his own selfishness and turns back to reality and the people who are important to him.

His romance for words captivates his heart and mind. Could he change even if he wanted to? He loves being the center of his universe and his own god. 

This god of passion is called selfishness. Others do not dare tell the poet he has character flaws because his ego is fragile. He will not believe them. If he ignores the truth and continues to be deceived by an innocent flirtation with words, his downfall will come.

His own words may be sweet to his ears, but better is whispering sweet words in the ear of the one who keeps his bed warm at night and brings him coffee in the morning.

It is the poet’s call. If he is willing to be deceived, loving his own words and taking his mistress to his bosom without thought for others, the wife might write the final page.