. . . grips a tapered wine glass, nearly drained,
Beneath a gold band and engagement gem;
Ham-fisted, left-hand fingers round the stem,
Forefinger lifted, fattened with the strain.
The symptoms of her sloe-eyed pose are pained,
Her lips pulled wide and reddened.  Under them,
The edges of her V-dart collar hem
Conceal, almost, the goblet. Golden-veined
In theme, the lavish suite behind her speaks
Of debts and delegations fit for kings,
Troubadour orchestras, prime execution,
Absolute power and official leaks.
The velvet of its jetty panels sings
Of coups d’état, Rousseau and revolution.

And here, in this, she wears true blue, couture
In polished rayon, modernist in flair
And line; the padded shoulders — broad and square –
Fall through long arms, thigh-level, too obscure
For fair description — lowered in demure,
Meek relaxation. Glossed and dense, her hair
Falls to the bijou throat’s transcendence, bare
Of ornament: off-parted, insecure.
She seems anatomy immune to force:
Before her, ceremony and applause,
Behind and after nothing, barren space.
Be gratified, but warned, Self: In due course,
These hues will clash and die, those classic jaws,
The tongue that teased for hours a lover’s face.

But even death, her ghost, won’t bring you ease.
Some cranny of the house, some corner room,
Will be conscripted as a waking tomb
In which her soul is stored and made to freeze
Or swell by disproportionate degrees:
Initialed stationery — each assume
Precedence to your flawed, impassioned flesh;
A mothball take on mystical allure
Where you will be the spider in a welt
Above her bookshelf, spinning out your mesh
In mortal coiling, cloistered and impure,
Your webbing clogged with pastry cloth and felt.

October 3, 2011    |     Volume LXIII, No. 18

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Matthew Continetti reviews Keeping the Republic: Saving America by Trusting Americans, by Mitch Daniels.
  • Claire Berlinski reviews The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them, by Wayne Pacelle.
  • Harvey Klehr reviews American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation, by Michael Kazin.
  • Quin Hillyer reviews The Man in the Middle: An Inside Account of Faith and Politics in the George W. Bush Era, by Timothy S. Goeglein.
  • Ross Douthat reviews Contagion.
  • John Derbyshire gears up.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
The Bent Pin  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .