The Man Remembers the Only Cummerbund He Has Ever Worn


September 14, 2012 by The Citron Review

by Charles Rafferty


My date had a wrist corsage —
another first and last time confused
with brandy. Her dress belled around her
as if she’d stepped into an overturned
tulip, and my tuxedo was tight
in the shoulders, despite my having
been fitted. It is easy now to see her
innocence, the crassness of my own
desire. I cannot explain
how nudity is deepened
by the presence of a wrist corsage,
but she was careful not to crush it
as I peeled the stockings from her legs.
The cummerbund never made it back
to the rental shop. I left it
on the dock of a moonlit lake
as if the country I had conquered were
waiting for a flag. It stayed there
with her silence, which even now
I cannot hear. The clamor of it
terrifies on nights my daughter
is even just a little bit late.


Charles Rafferty’s most recent collections of poems are The Smoke of Horses (BOA Editions, 2017) and Something an Atheist Might Bring Up at a Cocktail Party (Mayapple Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, O: Oprah Magazine, Gettysburg Review, Cincinnati Review, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and Ploughshares. Currently, he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College and teaches at the Westport Writers’ Workshop.


2 thoughts on “The Man Remembers the Only Cummerbund He Has Ever Worn

  1. Terry Lucas says:

    Excellent feel for the line, enjambments and diction.

  2. Allie Marini Batts says:

    Wow. “I cannot explain
    how nudity is deepened
    by the presence of a wrist corsage”. It’s like a fist in a velvet glove.

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