Kathryn Maris, a poet from New York who has lived in London since 1999, is the author of God Loves You (Seren, 2013) and The Book of Jobs (Four Way Books, 2006). She has won a Pushcart Prize, an Academy of American Poets award, and fellowships from Yaddo, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Hawthornden Castle. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Poetry London, Slate, Poetry, The Spectator and The Financial Times, as well as in many anthologies, including Best British Poetry 2012, Dark Matter: Poems of Space and the Oxford Poets Anthology. She teaches poetry workshops for the Poetry School and the Arvon Foundation.
BY KATHRYN MARIS
It was a singles cruise but it wasn’t a singles cruise:
each participant simulated detachment but none
was actually single. Some, like the recently widowed,
were attached to ghosts. Others were legally attached
to a living person they once but no longer loved.
A surprising number loved their partners profoundly
while fearing said partners inhabited the category
of those who loved them no longer. These participants,
whose fears may or may not have been founded,
attempted to self-protect by labeling themselves single.
Soon a pattern emerged: those who feared abandonment
developed around them a planetary-like orbit
of potential new partners to whom they could not attach
because they were already attached. Such orbits lasted,
sometimes, for years. The orbiters went to self-help groups
and/or analysts and/or wrote letters to advice columnists.
Because they could not detach from their objects of unrequited
affection, they became the predominant clientele for future
singles cruises, unilaterally sustaining the singles cruise business.