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Hilde Weisert

Hilde Weisert is co-founder of this Society. "Everything Betrays Me Now" and "Leaving My Body in the Price Chopper Parking Lot" were first published in The Independent Weekly.

Everything Betrays Me Now

Everything betrays me now; my voice. I am old.
I am trying to describe a simple news story,
what I read about the Belleau Wood,
not the crime but what came before the crime.
I am trying to tell my friends
what is important about this ship
that would later be known for one sailor,
ashore, beaten by his shipmates – and nothing
betrays me there, I can say that part, page 1,
easily, even the horror of a phrase
never meant to be anything but a cliché,
now literal – "to a pulp" – for his crime;
My friends know that story, but what I want
to tell them is this other part, the buried news:
how the ship was dark, rough trade feared in every port,
so that when it turned for Sasebo
scores of fishermen set out in boats to say,
Go back! Go back! and another sailor,
smelling the dark musk, helicoptered out
in time. But I am old, and a voice
which was never meant to be literal,
but a modulation, instead just breaks
and pours out the truth. The ship
is in my chest, still at sea,
and the dozens of tiny oars are beating there,
and I am the one crying
"Go back! Go back!"

Leaving My Body in the Price Chopper Parking Lot
which becomes a river, wide and black —

Crossing, I falter.
My reason for reaching the other side,
the hard fluorescent opening –
for wanting help – fails me.
It is soft here, the river bottom
a soft hold on my feet, my calves.
I have the idea something
is wrong. The fluorescent way
becomes an idea, and fades. The stranger
I am reaching for in the dark
turns to me,
frightened, stopped.
It is only the two of us.
I meant only
to answer his question,
calm him, say
What happened? What happened?”,
hold him. But I am the one
who stops, whose body now
fails; fallen, remains now
on the riverbed. And what he is holding
is what is left, all the invisible weight of it.
I almost have the idea we are sleeping
in each other’s arms, invisible, a circle
on the water – And still
I would like to answer
the question, remember
everything. A reason
for this. If I would tell
anyone, it would be
you. My stranger, all I have
are my hands, and they are letting go.

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