Rachel Zucker is the author, most recently, of a memoir, MOTHERs, and a double collection of prose and poetry, The Pedestrians. Her book Museum of Accidents was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 2013.
“Don’t Say Anything Beautiful Kiss Me” is a piece from Zucker’s Museum of Accidents.
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 of 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 and 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.”
— Rachel Zucker.