March 3, 2011

Andrea Hollander

DELTA FLIGHT 1152

After the first drink, you can be
what you’re not. It’s so easy, all you must do

is answer this man’s questions with truths
you’ve just invented–on my way to the annual meeting

of master magicians, or to a conference of physicists
or international bankers–and your life is enviable,

new. Tell him you’re sad because you’re on your way
to your sister’s wedding and you’re in love

with her fiancé. Wipe your eyes,
sigh, mention almost under your breath the baby

you had to give up, the job. You’re the one
who introduced them, you couldn’t stop yourself, he would come

to your desk at the office. How lonely he was,
how young. But if you reveal the afternoon

of lunch on the rooftop, how for you
it wasn’t enough, there’s certain danger

this man, his drink finished, ice diluted
in the bottom of his plastic cup, will lean too far

into your invented life. He’ll offer his handkerchief.
You’ll finger his embroidered initials. He’ll touch your arm,

hand you his card. His voice unsteady,
he’ll tell you to call him at home–you,

an only child on her way
to see the ocean for the first time. You, who have managed

to live a moral life, whose troubled heart has never
surrendered, now with your wild and dangerous

lies, you could turn toward this stranger
and open.

from Rattle #18, Winter 2002

__________

Andrea Hollander: “I’ve come to believe that in order to matter, poems must be both entertaining and useful—entertaining by being rooted in the human traditions of telling stories and making music; useful by disturbing our lives enough to reinforce our humanness. These are the kinds of poems I endeavor to write.” (website)

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