Hilda Weiss
    Hilda Weiss has over the past few years done the poetry world—in Southern California and beyond—an immense service by capturing innumerable poets on video not just at readings but at studio sessions as well. At least one of these poets has now died, and I’m thinking of my friend Nita Donovan, whose work will, I hope, remain on the poetry.la website and YouTube for as long as cyberspace exists.
    Hilda’s own writing is exciting because she sets up expectations that her poems might veer off in a direction that is very purple and Capital P Poetic indeed—but then she jolts us into the gritty here and now and is anything but purple. The moon and rainbows mix with the harsh facts of economic and romantic scarcity. There are sudden shifts in tone and seeming non sequiturs, and they work! Hilda is a kind of “harpist rendering ice,” and I imagine it has taken her years to become this way. Her lines and her thoughts are clean, succinct, austere, at times enigmatic, always memorable.

This Time

When I finish the wine,
I know you won’t come.
I lie down on the bed
naked under my shirt—
the loose one that you gave me.
I touch myself there.
I do that.
Then I sleep
a small nap.
When I wake my jaw aches
as though I’ve held
the reins of a horse with my teeth.
The horse got away.

Optimism About Trees

I take this Kleenex and think
of all the trees I have known:
The fig and peach I planted.
Their tiny orchard. The young
oak found by the sweating day
laborer. “This one gets tall,”
the boy said and measured air
with his hands, reaching the way
we forget to reach because
we have so much. Virginia
Woolf’s mother set the table
without napkins, it’s said. (No
cloth was wasted.) We can learn
to eat without spilling, to
blot our lipstick on our palm.

I’ll Take Time

It seems to me time is the highest good—
the one thing I still want to have or be.
Or, absent time, I’ll choose music
because cities are spit and spleen.
The luminous speak of virtues—wisdom,
character, skill. They lack a visible shadow.
It takes years to become intricate,
to be as the harpist rendering ice.

2011 Hilda Weiss
Hilda Wiess was a Featured Poet who read her poetry at the May 2011 Second Sunday Poetry Series