As Vera-Ellen

Lauren Hilger

          “She must be pretty important!”
          “Oh, I wouldn’t say that.”
          On the Town (1949)


This is what will be what was
—cut my silhouette

into this
other door of living.

Stage lights, then nothing.
My tongue in the bare cup of my mouth.

A dancer.
A marble hall to fill.

I stand astonished                    as if someone in the audience has suggested my line.

I’ve done all this training
in January’s Chinatown,
frost scraping my limbs.

I want to survive
and keep on one light.

Let this be more
than the courtly love                             of the anacreontic anorectic,

I love to be winked at in kindness.

Love your acute, foolhardy moves around my dress—
You’re a nut to ignore everyone else.

I can hold my drink like royal tusk jewelry
and an entire man in my arms.

I feel I’ve hurt you somehow: emotive, hourly housewife.


Say I wrote you.