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Rachel Zucker reads her poem “Don’t Say Anything Beautiful Kiss Me”.

Brought to you by Complexly, The Poetry Foundation, and poet Paige Lewis. Learn more:

Rachel Zucker:

Book: Museum of Accidents
Press: Wave Books
Page: 56

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My name is Rachel Zucker and I'm gonna read "Don't Say Anything Beautiful Kiss Me" from my book Museum of Accidents.

I chose this poem because even though I wrote it more than 20 years ago, there are some things about this poem that seem more true than when I wrote it all that time ago and I love the way poems function a little bit like snapshots. They can bring you back to the past but then when you look at them there are also these things that you notice that you may not have remembered were there in the first place.

Don't Say Anything Beautiful Kiss Me

      if my lips were rose petals they'd taste too bitter.
If my cheeks were apples they'd crawl with apple worms.  
If my eyes were stars they'd be dead by the time you saw them.  
If I moved you like the moon I'd disappear once a month.  
If my teeth were Chiclets you'd want to chew on them and spit them out.
If my hands were birds you couldn't hold them; they'd peck you bloody.
Is my skin alabaster?  Then it's cold and hard and one day someone will skin me,
   make me into a cold hard box tinged with pink or yellow, to hold unguents, then 
   how will you love me?  
If my vagina is a cool, dark forest you'll certainly be lost, you have no sense of direction.
If my vagina is a cave--watch out!  It's prone to seismic shifts and avalanche.
If my vagina is a river honey: orange, lavender, fine herbs, hazelnut, all too sweet.
If my ears are shells I can't hear you, only the ocean anyway. 
And if my voice is music, it is unintelligible.
Don't say anything.  
I am not a flower, but a body with rules and predictable, cellular qualities.
My eyelashes and fingernails and skin and spit are organized by proteins
    designed to erode at a pre-encoded date an time, no matter what you do or do
     not do to me--
I am remarkably like an animal.
More like a heifer than a sunrise, I want to bite, stroke, swallow you so stop lying 
     there trying to think of something to say and trying to understand me.
I am the body next to but unlike yours. 
You already know me. You already know what I'm made of.