Get What You Want by Maureen N. McLane


after Sappho, Fragment 58


You who, like undergraduates, are always young
go in for the lyre
do not neglect
to put your hands in the air say WAAAAAA
and wave the long night endless –
As for me the dawn breaks
upon my tender body turning
stiff, my hair from black to white –
I find myself changed
in this light, my hips locked,
an untwerkable ass.
C’est la vie, que será –

And you forever young
in the strobe of the club
that makes night danceable –
delicate animals holding me up in this air –
Some live forever,
girls – not I, not you –
but some goddesses and the ones
they choose even the one who forgot
to ask for endless youth.

Remember the fawn streaking across the lawn
below a thundering sky –
that’s not me
any longer
though the lightning shows the way
it was once done
The wind’s shifted, now north
that once blew south
I see you there laughing rolling
together in rhythms my blood
also feels           So they say
Remember how they sang
how the legend goes
you can’t always get what you want
the immortal aging rockers
who thus far defy what comes to all
their hearts straining against deathless ribs


Originally published in the London Review of Books, vol. 41, no. 23, 5 December, 2019. Reprinted with the permission of the author.