The Black Hose

By Bruce Weigl b. 1949 Bruce Weigl
A boy who knew enough to save for something   
like the whim that took me downtown on the bus   
one lost Saturday morning of my mother’s birthday,   
I sat in the back where the gasoline smell   
made me dizzy and I closed my eyes but didn’t   
think of her, only of myself, basking in the light   
and love that would fall down on me when I   
handed her the box and she untied the bow to save
and lifted something shining out and held it up before us   
like a promise taking shape for once in her hands,   
though I didn’t know what to buy, the bus door   
hissing behind me because I’m in some kind of   
state now, a trance that comes when you pull   
at the cords of light that connect the mother to the boy,   
the 1959 department store
opening up before me like a jeweled city.   
In lingerie I found myself
surrounded by those torsos sheened in silk,   
dreaming my mother, feeling the silk against me,   
the two of us moving through a cloudy room   
in a dance I can’t remember until shame comes.   
From out of nowhere the matron frowned,   
asked what I wanted, hovered over me.
Confused and afraid I whispered, without thinking,
The black hose with rhinestones down the seams please
and pointed to the pair across the room   
stretched over legs on the glass counter   
as if about to step off
and I saw her in my mind slip them on,   
her skirt hiked above the garters, the sun   
catching in her tangled hair
until the matron made a sound in her throat   
and looked at me with eyes that said   
What’s wrong with you dirty boy.

All the way home a sweet ache rocked me,   
the silver package riding my lap
like a heavy wrong thing
I couldn’t give up no matter how it
dragged me down to a place
where I could barely breathe or see or feel.   
Whatever happened that spinning afternoon—
she ran her fingers over the rhinestone seams
or she didn’t, she wore them out into an evening
or kept them forever in her drawer of impossible things—
doesn’t matter. I would find my way into the light
of another woman into whose arms I fall
nights my fingers can’t tear through the dark   
that eats me, the silk stretched across her breasts,   
the need for something womanly to raise me up   
pounding in my head until I curl in sleep   
away from those longings, ancient and blue.

Bruce Weigl, “The Black Hose” from Archaeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1999 by Bruce Weigl. Reprinted with the permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc., www.groveatlantic.com.

Source: Archeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems (Grove/Atlantic Inc., 1999)

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Poet Bruce Weigl b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Youth, Living, Relationships

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Soon after turning eighteen, Bruce Weigl enlisted in the Army and served in Vietnam for one year, beginning in December 1967. He was awarded the Bronze Star and returned to his hometown of Lorain, Ohio, where he enrolled in Lorain County Community College. As Weigl states in his best-selling prose memoir, The Circle of Hanh (2000), “The paradox of my life as a writer is that the war ruined my life and in return gave me my . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Youth, Living, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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