Lyn Lifshin


when it's behind my knees

you'd have to fall to the

floor, lower your whole

body like horses in a field

to smell it. White Rose,

Bulgarian rose. I think of

sheets I've left my scent in

as if to stake a claim for

someone who could never

care for anything alive.

This Bulgarian rose,

spicy, pungent, rose as my

16th birthday party dress,

rose lips, nipples. If you

won't fall to your knees, at

least, please, nuzzle like those

horses, these roses, somewhere





if the tangerine doesn't

fill the house with thick

sweetness. If you put

your hands over your

ears one more time

when I'm talking. If

there's another month

of wanting to sleep all

day, the cat the warmest

sweet thing I can imagine.

If this damn rain doesn't

let up, I'm going to

have to rewrite the story

you’ve got in your head

about us and I don't

think you will like

the ending





Isn't it enough I've fought against

it with ballet classes every day,

often more than one? Do I have

to tell you about the letter

from a woman who says, "Now

in the gym the men stop looking"?

Do I have to joke, "Pull the plug if

I can’t do ballet," laugh when a

friend says, "I didn’t sleep with him

because I'd have to get undressed''?
Do I have to remember my mother

saying she'd rather be dead

than lose her teeth?

I think of the friend who

says she doesn't worry about what

poem she'll read but about what she

will wear. Another says she wants

plastic surgery but doesn't think

it’s right for someone in the arts:

shouldn't she care about loftier things?

I think of another woman who will

be photographed only in certain

positions. Do I have to tell you what

I'm thinking about isn't death

Lyn Lifshin has published more than 120 books of poetry, including, most recently, Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness (Texas Review Press), Desire (World Parade Books), Persephone (Red Hen Press), Another Woman Who Looks like Me (Black Sparrow Press at David Godine), The Licorice Daughter: My Year with Ruffian (Texas Review Press), and Before It's Light (Black Sparrow Press).



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