MY PICNIC WITH LOLITA
I brought the cherries.
I hoped for heart-shaped sunglasses,
a lollipop, from the movie poster.
I walk to class so weary of hearing them talk.
Poetry isn’t literary, I quote.
It doesn’t know the parts of speech.
Write what you know, I say,
trying to make it sound new.
She tells me her parents died,
at a picnic, just like this.
“Lightning,” she says, and I think,
Billy Collins beat me to it already.
“Lie down,” she says, “Take your coat off.
I’ll rub your back. I did for Nabokov.”
I do as I am told and think,
this is why he invented her and I invited her.
Someday, she will wish to be pretty one more time.
Later, at my desk, I feel a shooting pain up my arm,
a tightness in my chest. So this is my death.
Here. Now. With so many papers still to correct
and wish I could have died at my picnic, with Lolita,
by lightning, instead.
—from Rattle #20, Winter 2003