Artwork for Graham Coppin's poem

Untold Love Story
To the man I never married because I chose shame instead
Graham Coppin

Do not befriend me in college or return
smiling with sweat from rugby practice
or bring your toolbox to fix my irascible sink.

Don’t greet me naked at your dorm room door
or tell me how you run with poles or eat at
my mother’s table while she talks of avocados.

Do not go with me to tall mountains to see snow
or breathe in the bed next to mine at the beach house
or come and ask if the rumor of my queerness is true.

I’ll flee one June night across a dark border.
You’ll wander in the Zulu wild for twenty years.
We’ll dream in two hemispheres, our alliance of silence.

One day you’ll wait at the airport as I fly in from Paris.
Then I’ll wheel your groceries like a Saturday wife.
Then I’ll drink tea in the house where you live alone.

You’ll smoke weed at the table while I talk of America
and come to my room and breathe in the bed next to me
as we try and try and fail to spin away from the world.



Graham Coppin’s Comments

Growing up under apartheid, there was much I learned to be ashamed of. Apart from the ever-present shame that the colour of my skin was affording me an existence the majority of my fellow citizens could only gaze at and dream of, there was the stomach-churning discomfort that I was sensitive, a sissy, and, as puberty approached, a queer or “moffie.” There was no chance I was going to fall in love and marry anyone, and so I fell in love with men in secret. And, it turns out, sometimes they fell in love with me in secret, too.


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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 48 | Fall/Winter 2016 | The Shame Issue