Landscape with Written Statement

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:

Okay, yes
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.


From Landscape with Sex and Violence (YesYes Books, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Lynn Melnick. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 23, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this 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 one in three 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.”
—Lynn Melnick