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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 26, 2017.
About this Poem 
“I injured my hand rather gruesomely last spring and it took a longer than expected time to heal. That injury triggered memories of earlier, more traumatic injuries, which got me thinking about how my instinct is to always reassure everyone I’m okay, whether I am or not.”
—Lynn Melnick
 

Losing the Narrative

A shattered bottle tore through my hand last month and split 
a vein until every finger was purple and I couldn’t
 
make even a tentative fist. I used the other hand to indicate
 
I’m okay. 
 
How unwise I am, how polite in a crisis.
In triage, an overheard photo of someone’s lover 
 
almost 3000 miles west made me seize with longing 
when I spied a palm tree in the background.
 
I understand what it says about me 
that my body lustfully wishes to place itself where it was never safe.
 
I have put enormous energy into trying to convince you I’m fine and
 
I’m just about there, no? 
 
Besides, decades on, poorly healed bones help me to predict rain!
though it’s true I like to verify weather
 
with another source because I tend not to believe myself.
I’ve been told repeatedly that I don’t understand plot but
 
it would be a clever twist, wouldn’t it, if in the end 
I realize it’s me who does me in.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Lynn Melnick. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 26, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Lynn Melnick. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 26, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Lynn Melnick

Lynn Melnick

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).

by this poet

poem

Maybe you’re not the featherweight champ
of all the cutthroat combat sports

(fifteen and pregnant
again)

but you’d convert your ring corner
into a slaughterhouse

before you’d inquire after human kindness.


In the humdrum flare outside the clinic
you wait for a ride,

2
poem

Near midnight I’m held
hostage to the hazy upshot in the corner

velvet near a laced up tree and curious how I got here.

What a crowd! I think
and I think I should hoard my stash in my shoe.


Did you catch the census takers trying to autocorrect
the shelterbelt out of my history

poem

Into the fluorescent rough country
headlong into bulks of flesh

impatient to outspend me

and who wouldn’t fold real quick
under the weight of America’s sales and specials.

I believed then I didn’t

that I was different than I am
in my own skin in this