Struldbrugs at the Wine Bar by Susan Cossette

Struldbrugs at the Wine Bar

They were the most mortifying sight I ever beheld; and the women more horrible than the
men. Besides the usual deformities in extreme old age, they acquired an additional
ghastliness, in proportion to their number of years.
                  -Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

What does forever mean?

Younger women have asked the same,
and heard the same dull echo from the void.
Lead shadows hissing threats.

Nameless servers pour pity wine
for those of us who still taste.
The glasses rattle and the chatter clacks
from the tin ceilings, for we who still hear.

Frozen in time, covetous and vain,
incapable of friendship,
selfies of ourselves.
Botox grins, taut hollow masks.

Those of us still allowed to work toil
under ignorant children with no memory of the past.
The rest are granted a scant allowance.

Ever practical, we brush thinning hair forward,
cover the black mark of the eternal immortal.
Our birthright, unending days.

The shadows of dead lovers dance in mirrors,
and the nameless ones who never were
reflect back, taunting.

We’ve reached that age.
Our rights are gone.


Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust + Moth, Vita Brevis, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.

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