Posted December 21, 2019.

2019 Fall Contest Winner: 2nd Place, Poet’s Choice

Original Face

by Michael Selker

When our friend turned sixty she wanted

a new life, wanted to tuck up and tighten,

wanted to get rid of those lines

When people and things fell apart in her life

and her car made a funny noise in neutral,

she took control and hired a plastic surgeon.

Now she is wrapped in ice for the swelling,

time suspended, cut white lilies on the table.

His Boston Whaler is still in the driveway

with life jackets and oars packed inside

as if he might return at a moment’s notice,

the keys to the cabin in Cannon Beach

still hanging on the hook by the basement door.

Ten to twenty years erased. And why not.

We tell her to remember she is beautiful

with or without that surgery. We tell her

to remember that the world makes us do these things.

To remember the Zen Koan that tells us to show

the face we had before our parents were born.

Poet bio

Michael Selker graduated from UCSB at a vibrant time for English majors; Hugh Kenner, Kenneth Rexroth and Basil Bunting were among the faculty. Selker studied with Hugh Kenner and lived next door to Bunting, who loved to drink beer and recite poetry—his own as well as work by friends Pound, Creeley, Ginsberg and others. Selker has published work in Cloudbank, Hubbub and Windfall and has one chapbook, Crazies’ Bus Stop, published by Pudding House Press.

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