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Hilde Weisert

Hilde Weisert is co-founder of this Society. "My Face at 1000 Park Avenue" and "One Good New Poem" were first published in The Sun.

My Face at 1000 Park Avenue

He wears a white coat, he is
fabulously smooth, clear, and tan,
he is handing me the mirror,

He is asking about my face,
what I see here at 1000 Park Avenue
in my 50th year.

"Take it from the top,"
he smiles, and I smile too.
This is what I came for.

In the brow--well, honestly?
Worry, anger. Ringing the eyes,
exhaustion, even fear, a bruise.
Around the mouth, reproach
and bitterness. And framing the chin,
disappointment like a flat tire.

He nods, happy.
We see it together: Not age,
but emotion!

Now I understand why no one says,
you look Old, no,
Old is not the problem, it is
anger, fatigue, bitterness.
It is that it has been such a long day.

That evening in front of my own mirror
I reflect—a little bewildered—
on what I have seen:
this constant announcement to strangers
that I have spent much of this last, long night
up crying. For any woman in her right mind
what I am considering is more taboo
than answering an S&M personal, but damn!
I am tempted. Vanity? Buying back
youth? No, but something youth
never questions—the ability to walk into a room
once more, with one's own hard-earned secrets

One Good New Poem

is all you need
to get back
in. Strike
any bargain He likes —
your immortal soul
is no use like this anyway.

But stake you
and before the night is out, you'll be back here
with sonnets, sestinas, ballads, pan-
toums, armies of heroic lines
that will win back anything.
You can do it, with
one —


This is winter, that light pressed
under glass, that preserved memory
of light, your heart
as still and small as the tiny winter day,
as the days that stand

You'll buy a gun! Hold up
Sharon Olds or Christopher What's-His-Name:
Give me that
poem you don't
need it.

Or children! Children have poems
coming out of their ears.
You'll take an entire 3rd grade
hostage, make them do those
dream exercises; scoop up buckets
of images they'll never miss,
the little bastards.

Oh God, these are children's poems
and Sharon's voice, and what's-his-name's
name, and here you are with

You want it so bad you can
taste it. Ah, no —
if you could taste it!

Nothing. All you need is —

all right, if not
the poem, then this
to breathe, oh, you could get
not the whole words, but, say
the vowels, the tone-
chiming, if the damned light
weren't in a vice, if the night
that's come so early and stayed
so late would let
up —

No. OK.
OK, then try.
Try harder.
Scratch out
half a stanza,
stick with it.

But the stoic measures stack up,
a concrete scale of false steps,
each phrase an abrasion;
and a sudden spill
of color, thrill of vision,
simply seeps away,
just a big, leaky stain
inside your eyes,
your own, thin blood
on the loose.

Part Two

              — Loose! Yes, out of the leaden
echo then, the golden. This resonance can't
be accidental (Did you know Hopkins, that one, was Liz
and Richard's favorite, didn't you always imagine them
saying it to each other in bed, in silk, drunk
with poetry and their own accents, didn't it make it
hard to understand what went wrong for them?)
when there could be all this
life, this color, this heart finally in the still
unforcing, in the slight slide of light deeper across
one day, still winter but February's sleight of hand
with the seasons, how could you doubt (But you didn't imagine
the newsreels on the tarmac, Liz alone, fat again, waving off
reporters, cut to Richard flicking off a cigarette
as he too hurries to an airport door, the black and white
proof that luxury of words, and of loving words,
wasn't, isn't, enough) that resonance, echoes might come
from ground still cold,
or cold again.
Or you might imagine them.

Didn't you
always imagine?

Back to Weisert poem list


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