mercy by leigh stein

Mercy by Leigh Stein

The way you say pianist reminds me of a love story.
You can face the wall until you make a better face

than that one. Anyway, we went to see the abortion movie
everyone was talking about, and we went to the Pink Pony,

which is really yellow and sans any small gentle horses, and I
ordered a peanut butter and banana sandwich because I was too upset

to look at meat and imagine it inside me. He ordered steak.
The February darkness was forgotten outside as we swallowed

in the lamplight, staring at each other’s hands, wishing they would do
tricks. As I thought about my uterus, he told me about his wristwatch.

I love my wristwatch, he said, I love it. You are probably thinking
it’s inappropriate to roll up your sleeves at the table just to show

you have something to hide and I shouldn’t have cried then,
as I stared at the dark hairs below his shirtcuff. I didn’t cry.

Let me tell you what I used to do with scissors, I said, and I told 
him. And then he waited for someone to come refill our glasses,

I waited for someone to bring a scalpel set. I wanted violence,
someone to fight in the dirty slushed gutters of Ludlow Street.

He was too small to fight, though; I had to wear flats. What are you
thinking? I said. Right now? Nothing. Nothing? Nothing.

I was thinking of being plundered by a Viking. The least
he could have done was put his hands on me in the dark.

You know how cold that winter was. You know what I mean
when I say whaling harpoon. You’ve seen pictures of what I want.