I was always sweet, at first. Oh, it’s so easy to be sweet to people before you love them.
Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.
Silk spool of the recluse as she confects her final mythomania.
If it is written down, you can’t rescind it.
Spoon and pottage bowl. You are starving. Come closer now.
What if I were gone and the wind still reeks of hyacinth, what then.
Who will I be: a gaudy arrangement of nuclei, an apple-size gray circle
On the tunic of a Jew, preventing more bad biological accidents
From breeding-in. I have not bred-
In. Each child still has one lantern inside lit. May the Mother not
Blow her children out. She says her hair is thinning, thin.
The flower bed is black, sumptuous in emptiness.
Blue-footed mushrooms line the walkway to my door. I would as soon
Die as serve them in a salad to the man I love. We lie down
In the shape of a gondola. Venice is gorgeous cold. 3 December,
Unspeakable anxiety about locked-in syndrome, about a fourth world.
I cannot presume to say. The violin spider, she
Has six good eyes, arranged in threes.
The rims of wounds have wounds as well.
Sphinx, small print, you are inscrutable.
On the roads, blue thistles, barely
Visible by night, and, by these, you may yet find your way home.
This is before I’d read Nietzsche. Before Kant or Kierkegaard, even before Whitman and Yeats.
I don’t think there were three words in my head yet. I knew perhaps, that I should suffer.
I can remember I almost cried for this or for that, nothing special, nothing to speak of.
Probably I was mad with grief for the loss of my childhood, but I wouldn’t have known that.
Evolution settles for a while on various stable balances.
One is that some of the girls like cute boys and some
like ugly older men and sometimes women. The difference
between them is the ones who like older men were felt up
by their fathers or uncles or older brothers, or, if he didn’t
touch you, still you lived in his cauldron of curses and
urges, which could be just as worse. They grow already old,
angry and wise, they get rich, get mean, get theirs.
The untouched-uncursed others are happy never needing
to do much, and never do much more than good. They envy
their mean, rich, talented, drunk sisters. Good girls drink milk
and make milk and know they’ve missed out and know they’re
better off. They might dance and design but won’t rip out lungs
for a flag. Bad ones write books and slash red paint on canvas;
they’ve rage to vent, they’ve fault lines and will rip a toga off
a Caesar and stab a goat for the ether. It’s as simple as that.
Either, deep in the dark of your history, someone showed you
that you could be used as a cash machine, as a popcorn popper,
as a rocket launch, as a coin-slot jackpot spunker, or he didn’t
and you grew up unused and clueless. Either you got a clue
and spiked lunch or you got zilch but no punch. And you
never knew. It’s exactly not anyone’s fault. If it happened
and you don’t like older men that’s just because you like
them so much you won’t let yourself have one. If you did
people would see. Then they would know what happened
a long time ago, with you and that original him, whose eyes
you’ve been avoiding for decades gone forgotten. That’s why
you date men smaller than you or not at all. Or maybe you’ve
turned into a man. It isn’t anyone’s fault, it is just human
and it is what happens. Or doesn’t happen. That’s that. Any
questions? If you see a girl dressed to say, “No one tells me
what to do,” you know someone once told her what to do.
—Jennifer Michael Hecht