Sample Poems by Hilde Weisert
The Scheme of Things
An old idea in light of recent
Lacunae lace the fossil record, and coeval bones
of super- and
subordinate species - the one
we'd thought replaced the other - won't line up
slow, steady march, where the primal
versions (short of reach, or range, or wit required
the shifting fruit, or prey, or plight) would retire
with the resigned sigh of the marginally
Instead, ingenious leapers coexist with their irrupted past.
morning, from nowhere, an unselected self: A gait
that unrhythms you, a grasp that fills your
with nameless stuff. Your skull a holy dome - A new weight!
But on this plain, the claw-
and-hunch will coexist
with you for ages. All aching appetite, her jaws will snap
your fine teeth close. Even now, ontogeny recaps.
The Certainty of
"...The certainty of others, the life, love, sight, hearing of others.
Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore..."
-- Walt Whitman, "Crossing
Soon we are to leave this year, and century, a crossing
made as a young woman - but she was brave,
hands eager on the rail, eyes brimming as a new
wheeled its great machine into view, the New York World
copper and a rising
dome, the new shapes a skyline.
Was there no one she loved in that old wooden
no one to make her feel that what she left
was not behind an ocean, but
I fear for those who stayed, how they can go on so far
from where we rise now on
the new world's turning...
And yet lower Manhattan is always lovely from the
The white choirs my father down from Dartmouth saw in '29.
As late as '68,
dragging home winter grocery sacks, my roommate
caught a glimpse of the Singer and thought
it was a Christmas tree on fire.
I don't remember when they took the Singer
It is only Brooklyn, and the lesser river, yet standing here
I feel that it is time
we look across, and that this briny island
has sailed us in, the salt wind of a century on our
But it is Brooklyn. I see the ferries run again, the white wakes
returning home. And
behind, only a century leaving us.
The Transit Hall on Pier 86
They say there's a place in the brain for
and I believe it, this headache a claw
into raw nerves, the strain of testing
many men's faces for my one "Father"
as the boat empties and the transit hall
with women, children, and one plausible man
after another whose face dissolves
study. For a moment each one
could be him, ruddy, regular, a gaze returned
face, which has its own brain
place also working hard to make
something recognizable as a
out of so many raw nerves. The looking and the looked-at
swim - these
places in the brain are wet, gelid,
something out of Coelenterata that starts to wave
handsome new father until his hard
square eyes break my floundering smile
more mistake. A decade is long
when you are twenty. The long hall rings
feet on pavement, the clamoring
embrace. When I see him, I am alone,
and at his
eyes, drop my own, ashamed
I tried so many strangers on, itinerants against
the one face
that goes here, and whose eyes
I could have lost when they are the same
Mine that I work to raise, bringing up
a woman's face out of a child's, and offering my
a hand, dry and outstretched.
In Paris together after twenty years, we walk half the map by
Porte Maillot down a zig-and-zag diagonal to our old Cafe Verdun.
We walk, and the
Plan's red-and-black lines block-by-block unflatten
into real-life streets, the smell of bread, and
children wearing hats;
ancient echoing courtyards and the earthy exhalations of the Metro
We walk alike, with ease, but talk like strangers stumbling through
Still, I'm restored, quenched by northern light like water,
alive and on foot in
Paris, remembering, zig by zag, what it was to be your daughter
long ago. When you
brought us here, your little woolen family in the gloom,
the grit of war on walls, Europe was as
strange as Asia, and yet made for us.
You weren't much of a father, Father, but I eat Verdun's
and the gritty long-lost warmth salves everything. How we made this
and then could leave, and how you shook your fist (You'd paid for us!)
me, mon pere. Quand-meme! I give your page three stars: Vaut le voyage.