The Mistress to Herself


While I am held more tenderly
than I’ve been held by other men,
he does not say a word to me
that he might not take back again.

He’ll keep me on a pedestal
until he puts me on the shelf.
So I can either wait to fall
or I can come down by myself.

I don’t know whether to be sad
by holding on or letting go.
A little love is what I had.
It did not seem a little, though.


Alfred Nicol received the 2004 Richard Wilbur Award for his book, Winter Light, and is editor of The Powow River Anthology. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The New England Review, and The Formalist, among others.

First published in Measure, Volume 2 (2007)