Andrea Hollander

po_Hollander-Andrea1Andrea Hollander (born April 28, 1947) is an American poet.

Her most recent poetry collection is Woman in the Painting (Autumn House Press, 2006). Her work appeared in Poetry, The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg Review, New Letters, FIELD, Five Points, Shenandoah, and Creative Nonfiction.


AN EXPLANATION
Andrea Hollander

It’s nothing, really, just a kind of trick I use
to keep them. I look up from their bodies

with a tenderness I’ve maintained after we’ve made love
wishing to extend even further

that welcome moment of grace that settles in
just the inevitable diminishment

over which neither of us has any control.
I look up from their bodies and glance

toward a window, if there is a window,
or a closet door or a calendar on the wall, perhaps

a candle on the bedside table with its rare field flame.
I there’s a painting above the bed, I bed sure it’s safe

before we even begin to undress or lie down
to undress one another. Once

it was one of those portraits of Jesus
naked and bleeding, which ruined everything.

I’m all there when I’m there. Yet sometimes, I’ve learned,
it’s better to lift them out of themselves by giving

a little bit less. I don’t mean to be cruel,
cutting them off from my pure attention. I only want

the deepest they’ll give me, the thing you can’t ask for —
they don’t know where it is themselves. I think

of Valentino who was forced to use only his eyes to speak
and his body, the sound of his voice kept irretrievably

from us, that incomplete circle that wanted finishing,
and we, of course, supplied the best.

That’s it, really. Leaving something necessary
out that they’ll fill in. Something small, of course,

but important, something at first you don’t withhold
so they’ll notice right away when you do.

Remember the page in the children’s magazine
that displayed a kitchen or yard and asked you to find

the ten things wrong? An upside-down
clock, say, or a dog in a tree?

It’s taken me years to learn this, and it works.
A woman will nest herself for as long as I want her.

She gives me more and more of everything, tries
to fill my gaps, plug holes in my conversation.

When she finally tires of her own failures, and leaves,
it never hurts. I always have at least her sympathies.

and her longing. There are so many beautiful women
lighting this world. It’s the only way I’ve found

to possess them.