Elise Hempel: "Blind Dates Back Then"



First was the crafting of the ad
to fit the newspaper's space: Must love
dogs, old movies, be in shape, have
a sense of humor, hair. Then the flood

of white envelopes arriving, like Christmas,
the wonder and thrill of the unknown,
until you opened them, saw strewn
across your floor the world's sadness:

those from the serious, petless, and bald;
those penned in a Pleistocene hand;
those showing gold chains around
a sagging neck; those who told

you everything you needed to know
by not enclosing a photo at all;
those who began Dear Beautiful
or promised lewd favors in Paragraph Two;

the one who sooner confessed to having
a penile implant; the one who said
he lived with his mother; the one who admired
that great old actor, Stallone.

And the dates themselves? As now, I assume:
the instant knowing; the eternal pretend
over three courses; the smile that hid
the desire to bolt; the long rush home

to softer clothes, a glass of cheap wine
never more rich, the deep bouquet
of your apartment, full certainty
of who you were, the savoring of alone.


Elise Hempel has had poetry appear in Able Muse, Measure, Spoon River Poetry Review, Rattle, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, and Tar River Poetry.