2016-03-09

Elegy
—a poem by Helene Macaulay

Last week I lost a milky molar
To an almond
Nesting sneakily in a chocolate bar
And like hard times
It left a void
But no real scar


In New York or LA it would hit retinas like a slap
Why doesn't she have that fixed
And while you're at it
A little nip and tuck sweetie they'd whisper
But beauty's a temperamental muse, I've discovered
And middle age just a dull surprise


And why didn't the young men in this town
Get the memo about older women?
And with whom do they explore
The incertitudes they hide beneath their ursine beards?
Though I've no appetite left for conquest
I still ponder what stirs them to covet


An ample-legged Wisconsin girl in a chain store sundress
Worshiping at the shrine of her iPhone
Striding swiftly by not seeing the phalanx
Of hospital buildings that line the campus drive
Her swirling hemline taints sunburnt thighs
With the residue of sweatshop squalor


Or a frosty Goth princess with a drugstore rinse
And a chipped black manicure
That sets off a slender white finger
Which is poised to deliver
A bruise-colored dollop
To her delectable labretted mouth


Because I don't care for geezers
With extravagant eyebrows
As long as your thumb
And perpetual entitlement thick as tar
To hell with your tenure
I won't be your nurse


This Midwestern town with its starlight and sunsets
And Sugar Maple-lined streets dead quiet after ten
Except for the army of cottontails who
In the nacreous moonlight ravage the lovely gardens
While the neighbors sleep safely
In their quaint Victorians


Yes, now I see, I live in a solar system and in the morning
Eat buttered toast outdoors in the company of honeybees
And drink malty beer in hipster bars
When all I want is a proper Martini
Served by a silver-haired Italian American
Gent in an oak-paneled joint in Midtown


And no you can't have my location
I'm still set to East Coast time
Because I crave an hourly reminder
Of that long ago disappeared never to return again place
That I pathetically cling to
In an implacable fog of resentment


New York City's like a ghost who refuses to leave
A fine white powder still coats my skin
Of asbestos mixed with the ashes
Of the bones and viscera of the dead thousands
The filth and the noise are here too
And the fire - the burning fire


Of tender souls
And of true love that left the detritus
of unrelenting regret like the aftertaste of sour milk
And the wounds on my back
A tally of false friends
Who wielded jagged knives


The morning-after shame of
Unbridled dancing in polite company
Strolling sultry-hot sidewalks
In four and a half inch stilettos
After one too many cocktails
At The Four Seasons


Or The Oak Bar, or The Carlysle
But Bobby's gone now
And so are the wretched porn palaces on 42nd Street
Etched in grainy black and white on my brain
Because that's how I remember them
In the colorless night


And now this place too for better or worse
Day by day deposits
Another microscopic layer that
When finally comes time for retrospect
Like snow on the highest mountain
Will never melt away


___
Helene Macaulay is an actor, filmmaker, photographer and poet, residing in New York City and Madison, Wisconsin. Her films have been broadcast on PBS affiliates throughout the Northeastern United States and her photography has been exhibited internationally, including the National Portrait Gallery, London, UK. Her work is available for viewing at helenemacaulay.com

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