Removing Him from the Sex Scenes in All of Your Books by Rachel Mennies

 

You don’t touch him. You never touch him.
Your hands reopen the book and crease the pages.
You worship each new man the protagonist fucks
and leaves. You are ready for all the freshman boys

in Hollis Hall. You march down Brattle Street
from the library, fed. He sells used Hondas
a few left turns from your childhood
home. You close the book again. He becomes

a doctor, performs the world’s first-ever
head-to-head transplant. He has children, then
never has children. You turn to a new chapter.
He joins the Air Force. He opens

a bakery. His hands knead the growing
soft white. Is he hot from the work, reaching
to open the window? Is it loud on the dawn
Boston street? You don’t write

about him. You return one stack of books
and withdraw another. You whisper
Your gardens were the gardens I spoke of
when I spoke to you of gardens
to strangers

on the T. Would he cover your eyes, too,
with his fingers? Would he take you in the museum
hallway, in the backseat of Cairo taxicabs?
You don’t touch him. You never touch him.

You count the doors again on the all-boys’ floor.
You open one, pushing a blank young face
to yours. Remember how
he never loved you. Remember

to write that down.

 

RACHEL MENNIES is the author of The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards, winner of the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry and finalist for a National Jewish Book Award, and the chapbook No Silence in the Fields. She teaches writing at Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of AGNI’s editorial staff.