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I sat on the subway sipping latte,

reading a short history of ruins.

Then, boarding the bus at Ninety-Sixth Street,

grabbed by mistake—such screwball

anti-élan!—a blind man’s cane

instead of the post beside his slouching form.

Then home to my journal and ordering in.

There are times when one feels oneself

the star of a movie about one’s life,

all nuance and dimension replaced

by scare-quote features, floodlit in plain day.

There are times when one feels a frightful cliché.

And yet the coffee tasted good,

the book set me brooding helplessly,

hopefully, on the folly of recent woes.

To every cliché, a germ of truth.

To do otherwise, a terrible falsehood.

And so, to the unthumbed cookbooks,

to the lavender lipstick bought

in a you-must-change-your-life frenzy,

a gentle not yet: this caffeine high,

this madcap tribute to Hepburn’s ghost,

this zeal for aqueducts and abbeys

compose a life, though someday they may rest

in cobwebbed attics, dear ruins of former selves.

from Silver RosesFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2010
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Published in Poems Rachel Wetzsteon

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