So long, in fact, it can remember
you more beautiful and desolate
than you ever knew yourself to be.
It wanted to ask
what it was you were so afraid of.
Now it thinks it knows
the only perfect poem is the one
you would have written
then, and then is never now,
and now is always too soon.
Remember the night you saw yourself
in the mirror the other side of the bar,
Arnold’s 1985, framed between the bottles,
and you were slapped by your
own loveliness, unloved?
That was the poem.
And now looking in the mirror
you want to slap that girl’s other cheek,
if you only knew where she was,
wake her up to her life.
But the only perfect happiness
is the one you didn’t know
would be yours.
That, too, is the poem.
*Title is a line from a poem by Mark Flanigan, “Untitled”