“But How Can You Name What You Don’t Have” by Michele Lent Hirsch

Michele Lent Hirsch

BUT HOW CAN YOU NAME WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE

The man on the train with the
casual boner is reading The Beautiful and
the Damned. He reminds me I’ve never read
that particular book and I’ve also never had

a boner. What’s more important: to read every
novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald or to feel
what this man feels daily, nonchalantly,
this everyday taken-for-granted erection

beneath Adidas exercise pants?
To feel it just once, as a woman, a woman
who isn’t saying that her body is
the wrong one but who’s always, I mean

always, needed to test that out
herself. Not the Adidas
pants. Just the erection. Not for
sport, but to be certain.

The man sees me glancing at
the spot where he juts out. He
probably mistakes the way that
I want it.

from Rattle #48, Summer 2015
Tribute to New Yorkers

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Michele Lent Hirsch: “That I grew up without a car, without that bubble of privacy, probably informs my work. The subway, for one, sneaks into my poems—but it’s more than that. It’s how I don’t mind being squished against strangers, all of us observing each other, all smelling each other while pressed close. That, and there’s a certain cadence. I was bombarded by family members’ strong accents—some from the Bronx, others from Manhattan and Brooklyn—and my writing must’ve absorbed all those lilts.” (website)