by Robin Becker

Everyone here wears a full head of dark hair. Mornings,
they casually allude to parties, getting to sleep at three or four.
As usual, there are a few great beauties;
most still eat eggs.
They treat me like an older sister, hip but no
all-nighters. What happened to my competitive spirit?
My rakish scarf? Like an old man, I miss my
basset hound.

Back home, my Mountain Laurel creates curb appeal,
my mailbox salutes, a sturdy citizen on the road.
Last month I felt great communion with my neighbors
as we all cursed and mowed. Then we hauled
our recycling bins to the street in unison, we made
the collective squeal of our village.

Still, I like these young people,
some of whom still read poetry
and smoke cigarettes.
We share a taste for the linen suits I found
along the Avenue, when I lived in a studio
in Cambridge, city of brick and rescued greyhounds.
Restless, I didn't even know that wanting
was already a kind of having.

Today over lunch I will have an argument with myself
and enjoy it thoroughly, taking both sides,
gesturing and furrowing my brow. Though secure
employment is a sure sign of age, it's so still
in this glade of light and leaves that I might mistake
myself for a bear, a deer.


I ripped this poem out of the
1999 January/February issue of The American Poetry Review.
I was 21. I lived in an apartment where my room had a towel instead of a door.

I still like that line about wanting being a kind of having, a kind of nostalgia preparedness. And I picture Becker's hipster bevy congregating at Cosmos, the old Cosmos, the way it used to be when Cosmo himself dropped his cigarette butts on the burner and they'd get into the egg. He'd say, What you want today? I make you nice mish-mash, eh? His voice sounded like a fart, or a hangover.

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