The time has come he never thought would come
when he sees her see in him just defects.
As if his love is what has kept her down,
what once she thought was perfect she rejects.
She takes an audit of his qualities,
subtracts affection, multiplies distress,
and so, in sum, she takes his sum and sees
the countless reasons she should need him less.
She knows him better than he knows himself
so if she finds his love to be oppression,
and reads these years of joy as years of lies,
then he must turn his mind against himself
and see, laid out in infinite regression,
his net and gross failure in her eyes.
[TONY BARNSTONE is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Whittier
College in California. His most recent books include The Anchor Book
of Chinese Poetry (Anchor, 2003); The Literatures of Asia
(Prentice Hall, 2002); The Literatures of the Middle East (Prentice
Hall, 2002); and a collection of his poetry, Impure (UP Florida,