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Ghazal: Waiting

by Marilyn Hacker

What follows when imagination's not inspired by waiting,
body and spirit rendered sick and tired by waiting?

Wrinkles, stock market losses, abscessed teeth, rejection slips:
some of the benefits acquired by waiting.

Taught from childhood that patience is a virtue,
she thought that she could get what she desired by waiting.

History, a child at the chapter's cusp
can only find out what transpired by waiting.

Does anyone escape alienated labor's
cycle of being hired, exploited, made redundant, fired, by waiting?

He rolls a pen like a chess-piece between thumb and forefinger:
he won't emerge from the morass in which he's mired by waiting.

If poetry's imagination's daughter,
didn't someone say that she was sired by waiting?

She raised her children, wrote at dawn, ignored the factions,
arrived at being read, remembered and admired by waiting.

Once a pair of lovers downed shots in a Chelsea bar.
their nerves and fantasies hot-wired by waiting.

Sweating, shackled and blindfolded in a basement,
will I get out, the hostage (of whom) inquired, by waiting?


Marilyn HackerAbout the Poet:

Marilyn Hacker won the National Book Award for her first book, Presentation Piece (1974) and has published many volumes of poetry since then. In addition to her poetry, Hacker is highly regarded for her activism, criticism, editing, and translation. Hacker was the Sojka Visiting Poet for 2013-2014.

About this Poem:

This poem is written in the poetic form known as a Ghazal, an old Persian form characterized by the use of refrain. Hacker's "Ghazal: Waiting" is a meditation on the act of waiting and its impact on writing, relationships, and aging. Note: This poem is read by Shara McCallum.

"Ghazal: Waiting," from Names © 2011 by Marilyn Hacker, used by permission of the author and W. W. Norton and Company, Inc.



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