Perpetually Attempting to Soar

By Mary Ruefle b. 1952 Mary Ruefle
A boy from Brooklyn used to cruise on summer nights.
As soon as he’d hit sixty he’d hold his hand out the window,
cupping it around the wind. He’d been assured
this is exactly how a woman’s breast feels when you put
your hand around it and apply a little pressure. Now he knew,
and he loved it. Night after night, again and again, until
the weather grew cold and he had to roll the window up.
For many years afterwards he was perpetually attempting
to soar. One winter’s night, holding his wife’s breast
in his hand, he closed his eyes and wanted to weep.
He loved her, but it was the wind he imagined now.
As he grew older, he loved the word etcetera and refused
to abbreviate it. He loved sweet white butter. He often
pretended to be playing the organ. On one of his last mornings,
he noticed the shape of his face molded in the pillow.
He shook it out, but the next morning it reappeared.

Mary Ruefle, “Perpetually Attempting to Soar” from Cold Pluto. Copyright © 1996 by Mary Ruefle. Reprinted by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.

Source: Cold Pluto (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1996)

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Poet Mary Ruefle b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Relationships, Men & Women, Love, Desire

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Mary  Ruefle

Biography

Though poet and essayist Mary Ruefle was born outside Pittsburgh, she spent her youth moving around the United States and Europe with her military family.

She has written numerous books of poetry, including Indeed I Was Pleased with the World (2007) and The Adamant (1989), which won the Iowa Poetry Prize. A Little White Shadow (2006), her book of erasures—found texts in which all but a few words have been erased from the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Men & Women, Love, Desire

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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