Blonde as only a pillar candle in a darkened church
can be blonde, my grandmother knelt at the altar
with demands. Every day a stick-up in the empty vault
of her body. She loved nothing more than telling me
her weight (98 pounds) after the birth of my uncle.
Milkshakes, the doctor prescribed, beer before bed.
Slim hips unleashing blood when the next baby
wouldn’t come. But that was not a story she loved.
Theory of Genetics
It meant nothing to let him go.
I carry him in my body still: his
fade-to-black-eyes, the rib he gifted
so that I may exist. What is it
to find a woman and love her
only long enough to make
another woman. What kind
of drive. The thrall of beauty
is finite. Moaning dully when
I’ve broken the bones he might
have liked. I wrap my torso nightly
to keep him close, and quiet -
the white grip of gauze like snow,
piled thick outside the only door.
Originally from Georgia, JESS SMITH now lives and works in New York City. Her work can be found in Sixth Finch, Phantom Limb, Ghost Town, The Best American Poetry Blog, Lumina, and other journals. She received her MFA from The New School in 2013.
READ AND LISTEN
Issue 6 Playlist