Richard Wilbur



                             The Catch


      From the dress-box's plashing tis-
      Sue paper she pulls out her prize,
Dangling it to one side before my eyes
         Like a weird sort of fish

      That she has somehow hooked and gaffed
      And on the dock-end hold in air--
Limp, corrugated, lank, a catch too rare
         Not to be photographed.

      I, in my chair, make shift to say
      Some bright, discerning thing, and fail,
Proving once more the blindness of the male.
         Annoyed, she stalks away,

      And then is back in half a minute,
      Consulting, now, not me at all
But the long mirror, mirror on the wall.
         The dress, now that she's in it,

      Has changed appreciably, and gains
      By lacy shoes, a light perfume
Whose subtle field electrifies the room,
         And two slim golden chains.

      With a fierce frown and hard-pursed lips
      She twists a little on her stem
To test the even swirling of the hem,
         Smooths down the waist and hips,

      Plucks at the shoulder-straps a bit,
      Then turns around and looks behind,
Her face transfigured now by peace of mind.
         There is no question--it

      Is wholly charming, it is she,
      As I belatedly remark,
And may be hung now in the fragrant dark
         Of her soft armory.


Richard Wilbur, Collected Poems 1943-2004, Harvest
Books, 2006.