2 Poems | Jessica Morey-Collins


What they don’t know is how each patronizing high-five that rasps against Sandy’s palm
is a calorie to her, a tally etched on Plato’s cave wall

where she dances with the shadows. She is 2-D for all the chained-neck wrecking
of peripheral vision she causes. Their neckties flap.

They dangle lewd shadows down their shirt-front buttons. Her laughter at them
spins like a small star in her heart, constantly combusting.

Her laughter at them all, though her face stays stalwart, feeds on each half-assed pun,
each eye-brow wiggle urging her into faux-laughter.

She hacks those laughs short. Chortle, chortle. For all the world her sparkle seems
sincere, but here, where the chain-wrecked cave spins

out from her, where the brightness of her teeth flings shadows gravity defying breasts,
where her body funnels attention toward the flatness of her, she can act

as thin as gossamer, see-through as tulle. They don’t know how each congratulations
about her good job good job on the copies

replenishes her electrolytes, makes her denser how her beam burns brighter
for meaningless compliments over meaningless work,

how her shadow thickens inside of them, how soon she’ll flare so fast she’ll rapture them,
how their shadows will collapse into ash-silhouettes against the walls.



after Darcie Dennigan

Bristly Dymphna, slipped from your unhinged father, your castle shrinks in its quills.
I rub eyes before your armaments. Your spires are filed
too sharply. My notes hold no
more acuity than your cedar scent.

Oh Damon, Dymphna’s father, straddling a casket, a canyon, a sea—you won’t
summon your dead wife from your daughter’s body.
Just over the Celtic’s whitecaps she waits: your run-off daughter in God’s light, shedding coins.

The worst ghosts I’ve ever known are my own greedy fingers.

In the seventh century, as a seed at the center of the mountain, I could hear
the bell-call of Dymphna’s pure heart to the headsick. Some asked her to dispel bog-thoughts,
some wanted the cobwebs mopped from their eyes & so cried out to her.

Few, if any, begged soup or shoe-leather. No, her virgin magic!
I listened—my brain-quiver ached for her cooling prayers.

My ears thrummed with dirt, rock & thicker than earthskin. I was only rumor & new
before my human birth. The earth. The dirty dirt. The spring-green of Dymphna
springing. I am un-rattled by the bell-call of her pure heart.

Did you feel the un-fucked mist of her twisting over the sea-top, the father-groom
looming his sword over the ocean? Her star-clean promise smelled like
lamplight in an old growth forest then. Death is never too soon among us,
said the forest. Return to that earth-dirt you came from, said the forest,
ask Dymphna’s monkish escort how clammy the girl’s hand felt as they fled.

I was potential and a vein of quartz, then. Just energy and a dust-dragged hem.
Mountain-swallowed, I was a mouth out of which a fawn could wobble,
little Dymphna, dainty fawn made of twigs and spit and shivers,
while your father coughed up his lost wife across the English Channel.

Pretty-stricken Christian, saint of quill-backed reputations quivering,
patron of the snot-sob ashamed in the shower, of the self-sliced skins,
if I ask you to tan my baby animal into leather, to beat me broader-chested,
I am asking to stay buried, next time—
I don’t want to feel much more than dirt next time I’m born.

Jessica Morey-Collins is a Pushcart Prize nominated MFA student at the University of New Orleans, where she works as associate poetry editor for Bayou Magazine. She received a scholarship to study at the NYS Summer Writer’s Institute and was a finalist for the 4th Annual Gigantic Sequins Poetry Contest. Her poems and nonfiction can be found or are forthcoming in Pleiades, scissors & spackle, Superstition Review, The Boiler Journal, Animal Literary Journal and elsewhere. She blogs on craft for the North American Review.

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