So many years have flown past, and yet, still
Scarborough haunts me, her words haunt me.
And in all this time, she has never entirely
Taken them back, never said that she loved me
As I was, as I am. Her avowals are always couched,
It's always clear that if she does love me, it is
In spite, rather than because, of what I am:
This oddity who wears stays and petticoats,
Spencers and a top hat. They suit me, I find,
And it took me long enough to come to this dark
Compromise. She thinks I don't know what people
Said or say, but I do. I always have. As Horace wrote,
"It is the false shame of fools to try to conceal
Wounds that have not healed." Perhaps, like our
Shared venereal trouble, some wounds never will
Heal. She claims she loves me more than "your
Miss Walker ever would." I remember the letter.
"We are where we are," I say. "We've both made
Choices, mistakes. Mm? Let's not hate each other.
We've weathered the storm this far... Come!
Live with me at Shibden. I won't go to Paris
Or anywhere!" She pauses. I will remember
That, forever: her pause, her intake of breath.
I sigh. "Think about it. We'll carry on to London.
Think about it." That pause. She lays her head
In my lap, where once upon a time, she did
Other things. My tea, like my heart, grows cool.