“Infidel” by Stephanie H. Fallon

Stephanie H. Fallon


When your friend breaks up his marriage
it hits your own like aftershocks, an affair
the kind of coastal earthquake that triggers
tsunamis, sending waves to crash all the way 
across the ocean to another country, another 
continent, another woman, to you.   


To be a feminist in this scenario, I can’t drag
the other woman like I’d like to, but I do a deep
dive of her Instagram anyway, sneering at her 
endless videos singing and playing guitar, 
the cheap floral dresses billowing on beaches, 
her bio with some precious reference to islands


and mainlands framed by too many emojis. 
She uses hashtags like #fallfashion and #bookstagram.
She’s posted a photo with her husband, dressed
for Easter at their church, accepting compliments
about them as a couple in the comments. That night, 
we learn this woman has been fucking our friend 


for a third of his marriage. That night, we sit on the phone 
while his wife drives until she runs out of gas, stranded 
after midnight on the highway. That night, we look at each
other while she tells us about the money, the confrontation,
how, in a moment of panic, she hit him across the face 
with his phone, fending him off. “You better be careful,”


he said, chillingly composed. “It wouldn’t look good
for you if I had to call the police.” I try to remember why
I thought he was a good person—did someone tell
me that? Was it my husband, who introduced us all those
years ago? Was it in actual words, or just the way 
I noticed my husband light up around him, enriched 


and full of faith? I think of the way he looked 
when we found out—not just deflation, not just sadness, 
but the kind of grief that confirms your deepest fear:
that all the things you insisted on believing in—that dear
and precious hope, that doubtful, tender thing—
were never actually there after all. 

from Rattle #78, Winter 2022


Stephanie H. Fallon: “The way we tell love stories are too often focused on the early, personal stages: coming-of-age, sexual awakenings, first heartbreaks. We are trained to think of love in the first person singular, and that the story ends with the wedding. So it comes as a shock how deeply we can believe in the love stories of others—our family and friends, the people we hold most dear. This poem is about the faith we build through our promises to each other, a reminder that the vows we make root into each other, beyond just a partner, beyond even ourselves.” (web)

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