• The Catch

    Richard Wilbur

    Fall 1983

    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 holds 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.

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