Your embarrassment,
Wine or blood,
Sweat or oil,

When the ink leaked
Your intent
Because you thought
Truth couldn’t soil,

Or when you let
The secret slip,
Or when you dropped
The leaden hint,

Or when between
The cup and lip,
The Beaujolais
Pled innocent,

Or when the rumor’s
Fleet was launched,
Or when the sheets
Waged their surrender,

But the breach
Could not be staunched
And no apology
Would tender;

When over-served,
You misconstrued,
And blurbed your heartsick
On your sleeve;

When everything
Became imbued
With sadness, yet
You couldn’t grieve.

As fingerprints,

It will not out
Although you spray
And presoak in the sink
And rinse:

What they  suspect
The stain will know,
The stain records
What you forget.

If you wear it,
It will show;
If you wash it,
It will set.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 Number 8, on page 35
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