Landscape with Written Statement by Lynn Melnick
Part Six of the American Academy of Poets Weeklong Poetry & the Body Series
This is the sixth poem in a weeklong series from the American Academy of Poets called Poetry & the Body.
You wrap my ribs in gauze—
an experiment with the word tenderly
after your hands left my throat too bruised to speak.
While winter sun squints at the ghost flower
dying in its shabby terra cotta
far from home
men tell me to be honest about my role in the incident:
I should have stayed inside
while you railed from the sidewalk
but my confused heart got into the car.
What happened is
I once spent too much time in the desert
so pogonip seems glamorous hung stuck in the trees
like when blood dries on skin
and I want to wear it
out for an evening,
pat my hands over its kinky path down my face
because: f*** you,
you didn’t find me here.
I brought you here.
About the Poem
I wrote “Landscape with Written Statement” because I wanted to explain to the reader what the speaker in the poem is explaining to the police, that leaving an abuser is not a simple thing, and not leaving an abuser never equals the suggestion that all is well. The indirect, slightly surreal explanation given by the speaker for why she stays attempts to mirror the distorted reality that results from living through violence. She’s also angry, as I am angry, that 1 in 3 women have been the victims of an intimate partner in their lifetimes, and yet our culture often doesn’t speak about this kind of violence, and, when we do, we sugarcoat it or blame the victim. I wanted to include difficult details, like the bruised throat, because that is what can happen when someone is strangled; it’s not glamorous like on TV. “I brought you here,” despite my pain, so don’t look away.