Twelve

Lynn Melnick

When I was your age I went to a banquet.
When I was your age I went to a barroomand bought cigarettes with quarters
lifted from the laundry money. Last nightI did all your laundry. I don’t know why
I thought this love could be pure. It’s enoughthat it’s infinite. I kiss your cheek when you sleep
and wonder if you feel it.It’s the same cheek I’ve kissed from the beginning.
You don’t have to like me.You just have to let me
keep your body yours. It’s mine.When I was your age I went to a banquet
and a man in a tux pinched my cheeks.When I was your age I went to a barroom
and a man in a band shirt pinched my ass.There is so much I don’t know about you.
Last night I skipped a banquetso I could stay home and do your laundry
and drink wine from my grandmother’s glass.When I was your age boys traded quarters
for a claw at my carcass on a pleather benchwhile I missed the first few seconds of a song
I’d hoped to record on my backseat boombox.When I was your age I enjoyed a hook.
You think I know nothing of metamorphosisbut when I was your age I invented a key change.
You don’t have to know what I know.

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Lynn Melnick is the author of Landscape with Sex and Violence (YesYes Books, 2017) and If I Should Say I Have Hope (YesYes Books, 2012). She serves on the Executive Board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. She grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in Brooklyn.

Poetry

July/August 2018

Chicago, Illinois

Editor
Don Share

Art Director
Fred Sasaki

Associate Editor
Lindsay Garbutt

Assistant Editor
Holly Amos

Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Harriet Monroe’s “Open Door” policy, set forth in Volume I of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry’s mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre, or approach.

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