Gold Rush, 2013
by Lucy Wainger
I want to fuck a boy who is good
at taking tests.
Why is gold valuable? Because it is rare.
Relatively. Because someone says this.
I dream of ghost towns: husks hardening
beneath a brutal sun, mined and abandoned.
During a gold rush, there’s no time
to stop and ponder, to smell the tulips.
Supply is limited. Demand is blind.
Every myth serves a purpose—
I dream of a ghost town: a girl and her green
raincoat, useless in the desert. Her hands
have hardened, all callous
and yellow, her hair so slow to grow.
The myth of King Midas
is a response to the dilemma
of limited supply, nothing more. See,
every time a town is mined to dust, a new one
appears, desperate and swollen.
In a sour ghost town at soft
high noon the whole world reflects
the sun as if forged from gold.
Days, miles, fingers, inches.
Ounces, karats, points out of one hundred.
Minutes until lunch. Stories just-remembered.
I jerk awake, sweat-soaked, a girl’s
name glowing on my phone.
Maybe there’s no cure for loving
answers more than questions.
Every myth has happened at least
sixty times before—
Fathers touch daughters,
turn them into their own gravestones,
the ghost inside the girl finally
dethroning her skin.
I remember her green raincoat,
the homework she rushed to finish,
the lunch she didn’t eat.
I want to fuck a boy who is good at taking tests.
Let his answers break me into rare meat, rubies.
Lucy Wainger's poems appear or will appear in Best American Poetry 2017, The Collagist, Poetry, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Vinyl, and elsewhere. She studies creative writing at Emory University, where she received the 2017 Academy of American Poets Prize.