TWO POEMS by Gina Vaynshteyn

/ / Issue 5, Poetry


Whiskey, my father said, can live
in an oak barrel for seventy years. As for me,

I shed skin, and every year I am a new
girl. I need no time to marinate.

It is said that I ruined my body with butter,
Midwestern comfort, and boys

who say, “Missour-ah” loud and benevolently
as they knock back a beer with a twang.

They gather me and drink; their hangovers kill.
The cashiers stare when I need soap

and a crate of apples; they forget
to give me change. They fumble,
mistaking a five for a twenty.

Green eyes, my mother said, are a sign
of an incurable meanness. She always knew

this is no country for women.




When making a fruit salad, does he leave you
the mango pit to suck on?

Do the sweet strings get stuck in your teeth
until you swear off palpable love forever

as though it were a bad habit, a perpetual

Do you love a man’s body or do you prefer
the softness of a woman’s, an apricot

that is dull enough to adore, but quickly
tart and sharp in the back of your mouth?

When I say the word “resentment” 
who do you think of first?

When I ask you how many times you had
to cut your own hair with a butcher knife

don’t tell me this was done in your sleep.


He hands me the mango pit, but only
as a replacement for his finger tips, which

are unavailable, forlorn and usually out
of reach physically and spiritually.

The only sweet strings are the ones I pull,
a craft learned in college and in bed.

I love how hard a man’s body can be;
it can cut through tomato skins and muffle

screams like chloroform can. A woman’s
body is lethal in different ways,

like how children can pluck legs off unsuspecting
spiders and leave them dying on the playground.

When you say the word “resentment”
I think of my mother, for she only taught

me to love men who didn’t need women. 
And I would never deny sheering off

the one thing that made me beautiful;
but the thing about hair, is that the second

time it grows back, it devours. 



Issue 5 Contents                                       NEXT: Kirti by Shruti Swamy