A Poem By Lynn Melnick

Why, Because the Dazzling Sun

I’m having one of those mornings
where everyone looks like someone
I have seen before—the man crossing the street

looks like the famous novelist who on TV said America
isn’t paying attention to the right things—the woman
heading down into the station looks like the woman

I once spent time with who told me she didn’t like
that we’re the same height without shoes on
because she’d prefer to be the smaller one.

It appears I’m annoying
everyone today like it was my fault
the diner ran out of tens and I said fives are okay

sometimes fives are preferable and I smiled
but no one this morning thinks fives are okay.
I woke up knowing I would cry at everything.

I can see the train tracks from my bedroom window
and it’s most of what keeps me plowing through winter.
I like comings and goings,

I like running away and returning darkly.
It would help enormously if people would stop
telling me I’m paying attention to the wrong things—

one time a man said good god, woman,
you’re obsessed! about my own orgasm
which he found me going after on his bathroom floor

but I just wanted one more. Is that obsession?
I haven’t any answers this morning.
I stop outside the diner for the sun on my skin

and a woman who looks like the woman
from whom I once almost bought a bedroom set
says He told me I’m too bitter!

into her phone and walks pointedly around me.
Is the hunt for pleasure always obsession?
I’m stalled here. I just want to tilt my face upward.


Lynn Melnick is the author of the poetry collections Landscape with Sex and Violence and If I Should Say I Have Hope, and the co-editor of Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation. Currently a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, she serves on the Executive Board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.

The Poetry Section is edited by Mark Bibbins.