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This poem is taken from PN Review 163, Volume 31 Number 5, May - June 2005.

Nine Poems Robert Wells

Bengal Nights

That was 'abuse'.
                               But you were resentful only
When your night-visitors, the eleven cousins
Older than you, drawn to your bed in turn,
Excluded you by day from their licit games.

Alternately the chosen one, the ignored one!
With what bland ease you succumbed, as if by right,
To that importunate cherishing, how gladly
Took instruction from its succession of whims,

I should have guessed, as innocently I played
The role assigned - honorary twelfth cousin,
Your refuge from the others,
                                                and have known then
What grievance follows after the charm has failed.

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