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It used to be that I was the prize
for stalking shadows, for keeping your trap shut.
I'd paint a corner to set myself in,

round that corner, smash a corner to see
what sprung up next. When I knew you loved me
you let me stay the night.

If I were you I'd erect a staircase and I'd climb
stone by stone just to escape myself.
Believe me, I've tried.

But you wanted me with you.
And I get it now.
The fronds are grooving on their flamingo stalks.

They're all we like about what we call California.
Here's our world, then, a dawn in the distance.
If you had told me, when I could speak only in whispers,

that the light hitting the sickly coral of the beach hotels
could travel further inland
and all the way east to find me,

this spot of a girl, grayer and gray and pink,
I might have hastened from my ambush
angling upward to the moon,

black and gravitational,
upending the illuminated trappings
we cannot live in this life without.

Lynn Melnick

If I Should Say I Have Hope
YesYes Books

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