Self-Portrait As Hit Me Baby One More Time

Self-Portrait As Hit Me Baby One More Time | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

A Sunoco gas station and convenience store. Courtesy of Mr. Blue MauMau/flickr.

Britney Spears, I can hear the static
you make from here. The bass line
beams low and clear across state lines,

they say. Do you miss indifferent
gas station attendants who sit
in the other room chatting with mechanics,

NASCAR playing at bottom volume
on the radio, and make you wait
forever for the privilege of paying

three bucks for a Diet Coke?
I stole a roll of Mentos when
I was in there alone. Hold it close,

you’re the only one I’ve ever told.
On the security video I’m front and center
in pigtails, an unbuttoned button-down shirt,

and my classic kilt, backed by a handful
of other schoolgirls. When I fling up
my arms and cross my hands to my heart,

when I take a few juicy steps forward,
tap twice against my chest (a bored
look on my pretty face), when I reach

my hands overhead, hug myself,
then run outside, everyone loves it
oh because

I don’t know. Is this where I ask
if I’m supposed to feel bad
that I stole? I ran out of class to see

the world at rest, when it thought it was
out of my sight. The sky was fine,
I guess, but waiting for anything

to happen upon it or not the earth seemed
not brave but desperate. So no,
I won’t be beating on it crying I repent!

And if ever some star-borne jury demands
account for when we semi-
accidentally showed our vaginas

to the universe or took candy
from a family-run Sunoco, then baby,
we’re probably screwed. Try dancing.

I’ll steal something to say.

Lucy Biederman is the author of The Walmart Book of the Dead. Her stories, essays, and poems have appeared in POETRYNorth American Review, and Ploughshares.
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