Scraped into shallow, almost hostile
questions of spring, girl feels
the full girlishness of her being
flood in. The first tulip
discovering its great head. Girl falls into the soil,
the doubles double
and divide until they’re all whirling intently
against the rich dark
One resists, swiping
at the pleasure of itwhile the others test
the flexing sureness of their strength.
Not pretty, but chemical
in its discovery. The raw, wiry bodies
arrange into a wheeling mass, driven wild
by the x’s and y’s of limbs slapping their fronts,
no longer about them.
What language is this, total rejection
of vowels hammering
a valley through the body? Glory.
The rising temple of the question
draws the worship of shirtless men,
their violence enacted like a duty.
Watched, girls do harm
to the shape of themselves, sink
through space toward an empty comprehension
where the question of stopping stops
the thought mid-think.
Girls expel their selves
in order to survive them. In those shapes,
men recognize the coarse machinery
of womanhood. What fresh blood.
Wind runs through the tunnel of them
and they all leap into the sky, exhausted.
Submission changes them, breath released
in clots. They sail
over the fence like arcing darts
with the steam of men trailing behind them. A single sweaty
verb remains, heaving, unable to be changed
or claimed. Metamorphosis sparks
and sparks but won’t catch, won’t be caught.
We spoke novel languages.
smiles. Shouts fired.
The hot ate its heat.
Sheltered by eventuals. Maybes
innumerate. It was summer
then summer, then summer.
The only sure. The temperature
furious. Seasons flamed
away, and their names. The sea
dead, baked as the back
of a cracked clamshell.
And while genuflecting at the beach
turned the sky green. A gruel influenza.
Imperfection reigned. Moments
of stop kept coming.
Limitless want clean.
Hair razed to the root
so we looked like opposable
thumbs. Raw tools.
City at its knees. Glass high-rises
hunched and melted, dripping
The saying went. Little ferns shy
in the bough of a sterile hydrant.
Forming what few sounds with a parched
strap of leather. Imperfection misused
was nothing. Nothing collected or
completed. Nothing grew or
revealed meaning. Moments
of stop ceased and the volume of production
lofted. Ifs refused. Certainties
settled into dusty roadside
sofas. Escape formed doors that led
between two fires: one now, one later.
Eventuals plentiful. Limitless want
a grit that tore at our skin. If only it would
rain. If only we could sleep,
but closed eyes risked sealing.
So we watched
what should have been
beautiful days. No way and no
change. The sun a cracked egg.
Jessie Jones grew up in a small town in Saskatchewan, spent a decade on Vancouver Island and now lives in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Arc, CV2, The Puritan, PRISM International and elsewhere. She has been shortlisted for The Malahat Review’s Open Season Poetry Award, Arc’s Poem of the Year in 2017, and was first runner-up in PRISM’s 2015 poetry contest. Her first chapbook, Nix, was recently published by Desert Pets Press.
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