While arranging a poetry reading
at Boston University for a Russian poet
I was assigned help from Elena
from alumni administration.
My first book had come out.
"Do you know how good you are?"
"Well" I said, "I would have stayed
in advertising if I thought I were bad."
"It's the same thing," said Elena.
"Poems advertise the poet."
"No" I objected. "That's not the point.
The reader has to find himself in...."
"It's all show biz. And I could do a lot
for you if you'd let me.
You dress all wrong for a poet."
I looked down at my little tweed
skirt, my loafers. 1979.
"You should wear long peasant skirts,
heavy jewelry. And a cape. Always a cape."
"You laugh too much." she said. "People
don't take you seriously. You have to
wear a black cape and arrive late.
You're always early. Make people
wait. Have heads turn."
"But that wouldn't be me."
"Of course it would. Your poems say,
'Hey, look at me.' Why can't your clothes?"
"My poems say, 'I hope this speaks to you.' "
"No. Poems say, 'Look at this cape.' "