The woman in the grocery store on Sunset
stopped me in the produce,
her claws about my shoulders,
to bless me on behalf of her God,
on behalf of her hair,
bleached past the point hair can withstand,
so each strand became a defiance of her very God,
and her outsize lips, still blessing, could only up and down,
until what we think of as prophecy
was merely opening wide to say ah.
I took my remains and broke free,
my skin loose as I ran. Meanwhile,
the butcher I’m dancing with refuses to change my face.
And the dye that spilled on the floor?
The kind of red your mother warned you about.
But no one warned me, I drank it straight.
Or hadn’t you heard. Lately, it seems,
plastic surgeons are murdered far more frequently
than your more interior doctors.
How have I missed that crazy little thing
called conversion, when I could have called it that?
The plastic surgeons scalpel their tombstones;
it’s not that they wanted to die,
they only wished to right the wrong bodies.
Was the cause perfection? Whose isn’t. But everyone’s face is falling,
and I don’t want the circus come to town,
whether I’m the circus or the town.
Lynn Melnick’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Awl, A Public Space, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Guernica, jubilat, LIT, and The Paris Review. Born in Indianapolis, she was raised in Los Angeles and currently lives in Brooklyn.