Susan de Sola


The Light Grey Suit, North by Northwest

“Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.”—Cary Grant

He’d rather walk down Madison, his route
to Oak Bar cocktails, in his perfect suit.

He cuts through tweeds and Technicolor skirts,
a chiseled, dapper gentleman: it hurts

to see him roughed-up, passed out in a cell.
He fares quite badly, but the suit wears well.

Caught bloody-handed with a murderous knife,
he hides aboard a train, meets future wife

Eve, who stows his suit inside her bag
and asks about his monogram. The snag—

the O in R.O.T. It’s meaningless.
He seeks a self, but in unchanging dress.

Dodging a plane, he finds his chances slight.
He’s dust-caked. Eve demurs, Your suit’s a fright.

His being’s shaped by some unseen valet;
unlike the jewel-toned Eve, his palette’s grey.

A cipher wiped by blanks. A bloodless scene.
He’s then locked up; the suit is boxed and clean.

In “off the rack” an active man emerges,
who climbs up steel-framed houses, mountain verges.

Eve’s shawl gets torn on trees, she sheds a heel,
but stays kid-gloved and nyloned all the reel.

They cling to giant crowns on Rushmore’s mount,
A drab professor ups the body count.

Now Eve in silk paj—CUT!—a scene suppressed!
The tunneled ingress tells us he’s undressed.


Charisma, granted, carried its own load,
his past submerged beneath the star-paved road.

Grant’s father labored as a trouser-presser;
the son in time became a snappy dresser.

Oh star of lacquered hair and knife-edged pants,
You too had wished a life like Cary Grant’s.

Susan de Sola’s poetry collection, Frozen Charlotte, is forthcoming this spring from Able Muse Press. Her poetry has appeared in The Hudson Review, The Dark Horse, and Birmingham Poetry Review, among many other publications and anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2018. She won the 2018 Frost Farm Prize and is a past recipient of the David Reid Poetry Translation Prize. She holds a Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University, and is the author of numerous critical essays, book chapters and the photographic chapbook Little Blue Man (Seabiscuit Press).