"True Confessions"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
March 1 2005 6:40 AM

"True Confessions"

                   If I'd been a ranch, they would've called me the Bar Nothing.
                                                                                      Gilda, 1946

I can never get a zipper
to close. Maybe that stands
for something, what do you think?
I think glamour is its own
allure, thrashing and
flashing, a lure, a spoon
as in spooning, as in l'amour
in Scotland, where I once watched
the gorse-twisted hills unzip
to let a cold blue lake
between them. St. Augustine says
the reason why humans behave
as they do is because they are
not living in their true
home.
In Rita Hayworth's
first film, for example, Dante's Inferno
is a failing Coney Island
concession, and Margarita Cansino
plays the part of Rita
Cansino playing herself. And the true
home of glamour, by which
I mean of course the grammar
of glamour, is Scotland
because glamour is a Scottish variant
of grammar with its rustle of moods
and desires. Which brings us back to
the zipper and why we want it
to close, each hook climbing another
the way words ascend a sentence, trying on
its silver suture like clothes. In a satin
strapless gown, Gilda slowly peeled off
her black arm-length gloves, showed
how to strip down, diagram a sentence: Put
the blame on Mame, boys.
In 1946, a pin-up
of Rita Hayworth and the name Gilda
rode on the side of the atomic bomb
tested at Bikini Atoll; it was summer
and you could buy a record, hear the sound
of her beating heart. By her last
film, The Wrath of God, her hair was a burning
bush; she couldn't remember
her lines, whether it's memory or loss
we're in need of most: to remember
the way home or forget
who we are when we get there.
Every man I have known has fallen
in love with Gilda and wakened
with me.
St. Augustine asked, But when I love you,
what do I love?
He asked the earth
and the breeze, perfume, song,
flesh, the sun, the moon
and stars: My question was the attention
I gave to them, and their response
was their beauty.

Angie Estes is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Tryst, one of two finalists for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize.