To the child the movie is mysterious.
Like magic, her mother
always knows what will happen. "She slapped
his face," the mother says, "but in the end
they'll get married." Murders -
the child wonders how she knows who did it.
It seems fitting, the mother's like
that with the icebox too, no use
wiping up spilled milk. Does she
have eyes in back of her head? Can she see
into a child's heart?
One day at a school movie some kids whisper
in the row behind. "Just wait,"
a girl says, "that guy's gonna lose his money."
And the child realizes it's not magic,
not her mother, it's movies; if you see
enough of them you can gaze right into
the heroine's heart, her secret love for a brute.
You learn what the everyday fails to teach,
that love goes kiss-slap-kiss,
the filthy rich go broke, and honest
folk end up happy unless they're women
and sacrifice makes them radiant.
Joan Joffe Hall grew up in New York and has published several volumes of poetry, including Romance and Capitalism at the Movies which is available from Alice James Books.
© copyright Joan Joffe Hall. 2006-2011