Wincing at the Beautiful

 

 

Wincing at the Beautiful
 

by Paul Hostovsky

 

 

 

 

 

So my friend Phil is telling me how

he can't get a date

how he loves women and how

they're always giving him looks

so I ask him what kind of looks

so he winces at the beautiful

braless young woman passing by

at that particular propitious moment

giving her a look of such

longing and longevity

that she returns his look with a look

that kills his entire family tree

from the roots to the unimagined

blossoms of the great grandchildren shriveling

on his shriveling bough

and I think I've diagnosed his problem now

and I think of quoting some lines from Rilke

but on second thought I think a sports metaphor

might serve him better

so I steer the conversation round to basketball

and the three second rule

which says you can only stand inside

the key for three seconds

before they blow the whistle

they're just blowing the whistle on you Phil

for breaking the three second rule

for standing there with your eyes

popping out like basketballs

it's a game like any other I tell him

then I ask him if he wants to score

and now that I have his attention

I throw in those lines from Rilke

I tell him that beauty is nothing

but the beginning of terror

we're still just able to bear

and the reason we adore it so

is that it serenely disdains to destroy us

and he winces again and this time

it's at the beauty of those lines

or maybe their truth which hits him

like a three-pointer now

that Rilke hits all the way from Germany

at a distance of a hundred years

 


 

Paul Hostovsky has new poems appearing or forthcoming in Spoon River Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Four Corners, Rock & Sling, White Pelican Review, Ha!, Poetica, Maggid, and online at RogueScholars, Switched-on Gutenberg, NewVerseNews, Perigee, R-KV-R-Y, FRiGG and others. He works as a sign language interpreter at the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf, in Boston.
 

 

 


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