Would you spit like me. Would you wear
your hair in braids. Would you smoke
Reds. Would you swear. Would you wish
you were blonde. Would you stutter.
Would you know our mother.
What instrument would you play. What boys
would look at you. Would you
look back. Would you teach me
how to roll my pants, how to paint
my nails. Would our father know you.
Would he drive you to prom. Would you
dress me as a girl. Could we wear
purple lipstick. Could you teach me
how to push out my hip. How to play
hopscotch. Would you flirt.
Would you sing. Would you give
advice: should I meet the boy from math
under the bleachers. Would you wait
for me by the chain-link fence,
crushing dandelions. Would you tell.
Would you give me the look
when we muddy back through the stream
on the Jacobson’s property. Would you
make up a lie in your head to tell
our parents. Would we make any sound.
Would we go back five years later
and find that water dried up, our house
not ours. Would you have known
what would happen to us,
to our mother. What our father had done.
Could you take me home and not ask
questions. Would I lose track,
would you walk ahead, night-brush
cutting the same shapes into our knees.
Matthew Gellman‘s poems are featured or forthcoming in Narrative Magazine, Sugar House Review, B O D Y, Thrush Poetry Journal and elsewhere. He is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets prize and a scholarship from the New York State Summer Writer’s Institute. Currently, Matthew lives in New York, where he teaches at Hunter College and is an MFA candidate at Columbia University.