The Other Lover

A poem from The Other Lover by Bruce Smith.

The Other Lover was a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award for Poetry.


Behind the door, cigarette smoke and perfume
move to embalm the world room by room . . .

in the first break from each other on the honeymoon,
sore, with a kind of horror-movie anticipation

of what's behind the innocent and beautiful,
still we want to have the face revealed

but not yet. She's on the other side,
fuming, he's on the other side, divided

by the pleasure of a hinged, hollow-core
door under which he wedges a letter

of his troth, and gets back
a letter with teeth marks and lipstick.

The mistake was opening, wanting more
than what could be had on paper.

"Letter" first appeared in Slate

Bruce Smith
The Other Lover
©1999, 98 pages
Paper $13.00 0-226-76408-7

For information on purchasing the book—from bookstores or here online—please go to the webpage for The Other Lover.