It Follows

By Ruth Stone 1915–2011 Ruth Stone
If you had a lot of money
(by some coincidence
you’re at the Nassau Inn in Princeton
getting a whiff of class)
and you just noticed two days ago
that your face has fallen,
but you don’t believe it,
so every time you look in the glass
it’s still hanging there where it wasn’t.
Would you take the money you needed
for a new roof on your old house
(the house you’re paying for
over and over in property taxes)
because it’s been leaking for years
and you’re tired of emptying buckets
and spraying for mold,
would you take that money
and get your face lifted?
Face-lift. They cut a slit
under your ears and pull up the slack
and they tack it with plastic.
Then they pull up the outer
skin and trim it because it’s too long and
fasten that. (Your skin
pulls loose from the fat like chicken skin.)
Because once you were almost
as beautiful as Jane Wyman ...
your friends all said that.
Of course at the time she was
married to Ronnie and you were
involved with the ASU—
a McCarthy suspect.
Forget about your neck.
They can’t do that yet.
A face-lift lasts five years.
So you could go on being a member
of new-speak and re-entry—
with the unsung benefits
of radiation and by then
your roof would have rotted anyway.
Or been recycled by some corporate kid.
But think how you’d rather
be stripped and streaked
and while you’re about it
get some implants of baby teeth buds
that they’ve taken from dead babies’ gums
and frozen for this sort of thing.
You could still die young.

Ruth Stone, “It Follows” from Simplicity. Copyright © 1995 by Ruth Stone. Reprinted with the permission of Paris Press, Inc.

Source: Simplicity (1995)

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Poet Ruth Stone 1915–2011

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Growing Old, Living, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Ruth  Stone

Biography

Poet Ruth Stone was born in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1915 and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She lived in a rural farmhouse in Vermont for much of her life and received widespread recognition relatively late with the publication of Ordinary Words (1999). The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was soon followed by other award-winning collections, including In the Next Galaxy (2002), winner . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Growing Old, Living, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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