It's always harder
when it's somebody else's cross
I told you you were beautiful
and I did not lie
but I questioned my motives.
I need to show I love you
because I fear he doesn't
but what can I give you:
There is no light under my door:
I am at home,
but not to callers.
What will you take
to take the pain away?
25 March 1989
In geometric terms, the eternal triangle can be represented as comprising three points—a jealous male (A) in a relationship with an unfaithful partner (B) who has a lover (C). To use a mnemonic device, A feels abandoned, B is between two mates, and C is a catalyst for crisis in union A–B. Leigh (1985) preferred a nomenclature describing the principles as “victim,” “cheater,” and “cheatee,” whereas Pittman (1987) utilised “cuckold,” “infidel,” and “affairee,” but such terminology strikes us as judgemental to all parties. – Alvin Pam, Judith Pearson, ‘The Geometry of the Eternal Triangle’, Splitting Up: Enmeshment and Estrangement in the Process of Divorce, pp.148.149
F. observed once than every time B. visited we had sex that night. She wondered if it was more than a coincidence. I denied it—I really had no strong desires that way—but, at the same time, I couldn’t deny that B. made me feel… I’m going to use the word ‘good’ here because she did but she also made me feel bad as well; in my experience most things in this life that make us feel good come with a rider. I never thought about having sex with B. when I was in bed with F. and especially not whilst having sex with F. but I did think about B. constantly; that I can’t deny.
I’ve had a work wife before. I’ve even had a work daughter. I understand these relationships. But how exactly do you describe the relationship between an artist and his muse?
A secretive model for realist painter Andrew Wyeth, the Prussian-born Helga Testorf became the captivating subject of her Maine neighbour’s studies for 15 years without the knowledge of her husband or his wife. Obsessively portrayed in 247 brooding portraits where she is with and without clothing, Helga became an American icon when one of Wyeth portraits of his muse made the cover of Time magazine on August 18, 1986. – The 10 Most Influential Artist’s Muses, Flavorwire
Did they ever have sex? It’s not beyond the realms of possibility but his wife thought not: “If there is this sexual thing,” she told The New York Times, “if he went over the bounds it wouldn't be a painting. He would lose the magic. It would go.” Sex isn’t everything. You get a rush with sex—endorphins are released by your brain—but you can get a rush when you exercise—endorphins first, adrenalin if you push yourself—but there are other chemicals our bodies use to reward us like serotonin and especially dopamine. Whenever we do something that our brain/body thinks is ‘positive’ (winning the lottery, eating a cake, finishing a poem) we’ll experience a rush of dopamine which serves to reinforce that behaviour/stimulus. Do you see where I’m coming from?
Dorothy Parker famously said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” Why? Because you don’t get your reward until the job’s done. For a novelist that can mean long waits but when you write poems with a couple of dozen words in them then getting a semi-regular fix isn’t so hard which is why over the next few months I rattled off so many poems that weren’t that great. But we’re not there yet.
The “he” in the poem (and the reason the title is in the plural) is a chap called S. by the way. B. was in love with him so even if I had been in love with or lusting after her she wouldn’t have seen it. In the end he chose E. and then dumped her for the most androgynous-looking woman I’ve ever met and moved to Canada but that’s another story.