Jennifer Battisti


Last night, you schemed bedsheets to hoodwink
your sleeping body into a convincing sham.

In middle age,
there are no motorcycles waiting
outside your house to summon and
exhaust your angst, only

the unforgiving light surveying
from your daughter’s window, while
you brace the porch, dare

your feet
to leave the practical shoes, to sink
the gasping earth.

There are no men
wet words to gravel against
your young runaway legs,
thighs pinning the turn-on of metal. The opiate of their turned-away heads,
the way you have to grip their silent backs to keep from flying

and into your living room
where your father will un-quarter the newspaper and drink coffee
without looking up.

There is no mother chasing after
your misunderstanding, your refusal to thrive, no
threats baited under
each eavesdropping streetlamp.
Your gloom holds no currency here.

There are no black deserts, back-alleys, dance-floors
sedatives, dirty mirrors, no portal away from yourself.

Only your teenage heart lacing up your shoes with reminders:
you have no business here, go

collect boxtops, butter toast, tuck and sing,
dust monsters, risk deposits on summer rentals.