That time of year thou may'st in me behold
when bits quit holding up; things fall apart.
“The center will not hold!” the doctors scold.
The surface, either. Holdouts ply their art—
cosmetics, dye—but those won't hold at bay
brute forces, no holds barred. The tissues fold up
like blown umbrellas. Mind-hold steals away:
It's less a gentle cheat than a gunpoint holdup.
You're pigeonholed now. Matron. Even hag.
You're jaded reader, holed up with Qoheleth.
You've held so long—the line, the key, the bag—
that all you're holding, finally, is a breath.
Held over, pending, idled, space unsold.
And still the phone recordings sigh: Please hold.
By Maryann Corbett
Maryann Corbett is the author of two chapbooks, Dissonance (Scienter Press, 2009) and Gardening in a Time of War (Pudding House, 2007). Her work has appeared in more than sixty journals including River Styx, Atlanta Review, The Evansville Review, Measure, Christianity and Literature, and The Dark Horse. She is a past winner of the Willis Barnstone Translation Award and a past finalist for the Morton Marr Prize.