in the mirror


Things I Should Say to Myself in the Mirror or Things I Would Say to the City of St. Louis If It Could Hear Me
Jacqui Germain
I’ve been planning
to leave you for years.
It began as a quiet urging
in the bottom of my heels
and now I dream
only of highways.
My desk drawer
opens to the smell
of engine exhaust
and the letter I wrote
when I was nineteen
and made my wrists
a cave of plane tickets.

It is a sign of prudent planning
to have marked an escape route
through your own bones.

Once, after all the policemen
left your forearm,
I walked my eyes along
the scar tissue on Delmar,
pretending, casually,
that I was your lover.
I did it nearly every day
for a whole summer
until I couldn’t help
but smell entirely of skin.

Don’t be so hard
on yourself. Half of you
is postcard, while the other
half of you is trying
to rebuild what, years ago,
was burned to the ground
by someone else. You are
always rebuilding. You are
always reaching for the river.

You have survived so much
that no one remembers.
And you still spread warm
rain on all your overgrown
lots. And you still get dressed
in the morning. You still
open wide for the sun.