Friday, September 04, 2015

Bright, Variable Stars

Jessica Wiseman Lawrence
—Poems by Jessica Wiseman Lawrence, Lovingston, VA


We begin as many-armed things.
I was born armed with feasibility and choice
branching from me, and so were you.

In the beginning, you and I crept along the world
beneath oceans.
We palpated the sandy unknown, blind
to anything but food, for so regrettably long.

Now that we have begun to know,
our abscission has begun,
and still blind, we lose one finger at a time. Often a whole hand is
gone. I threw one of mine across a trench while the ropes across unraveled.

Your limbs have gone throughout the years. You didn't notice until the small
of your back itched and you could not ease it.
That arm had shed years ago, as an eagre swept away a city we never had time for.

We watch each other separate. The faster we are pruned, the more we beg
to regenerate, but it does not happen that way.
Soon we will have but one arm between us, and we will
hold on. We will drag ourselves somewhere safe and beautiful,
across the shore.

(first pub. in Antiphon, 2015)



Mahogany-shelled, greased, ancient insuppressible
foretokens of disgrace—
I call them waterbugs and deny them.
One crawls up my pants as I change the baby’s diaper
but I don’t feel it until it is under my shirt,
on my back, running in a hurried curlicue.
I stand shaking and jaw-clenched until the baby is safe in the crib,
and then I dance—it’s well-rehearsed now—until I hear a clatter to the floor.
I kill it with a worn purple flip flop, breathing heavy, knowing there are hundreds
of cockroaches in the walls, and brush that reality away again.

I tuck the blankets tight to seal our bodies at night.

(first pub. in Knot Magazine, 2015)



Four cards are on the table—four suits
arranged—Punnett squares.
There is equality and difference in sweet peas— 
a box cut in half, once more.

I know four faces—still and plaintive, each.
I hear the rush of four wings; one is forever bent.
I am swept up in the green color
of creating a creator again, and again.

It took four poems. Two were handwritten,
one untidy on a bare leg, one slow and careful—revised.
Another was clicked out on black plastic at four in the morning.
The last I keep to myself—rough quartz.

The sky is perfect. My pockets weigh
more than storms—shelf clouds and fronts.
My daughter asks how many years she is now.

I take her hand and tell her—Four.

(first pub. in Knot Magazine, 2015)

 Jessica with daughter Claire


Sand is more than two glass curves
or walks parallel to sunsets.

I won’t make this poem about sinking.
I won’t draw in wet sand with one finger.

Sand is speckled in her hair, on her scalp.
Sand is pouring out of her sneakers onto the bathroom floor.

I found a grain of it a week later beneath my fingernail,
and a surprise wealth of sand between my sheets.

Some of it blew into my mouth during the charcoal-gray storm,

and I bit down, remembering that sand is not a fragile thing at all.

(first pub. in Jersey Devil Press, 2015)



When there is no room for anything else, there is always
writing at the kitchen table with the window open,
watching far-off rain dry up the idea of the sun. There is
knowing that to someone out there, we are earthshine igniting the darkness.

When there is no room for anything else, there is always
a reflection in a glass of water. There are leaves to write about,
and the memory of black and white to humble us. There is
knowing that to someone out there, we are bright variable stars, blinking steadily

and always.

(first pub. in Zoomoozophone Review, 2015)


Today’s LittleNip:


Today, standing in the kitchen,
I told a lie.
It dripped off my tongue, fell, dried,
and became a perfect bead of green wax,
stuck to the floor.
Like a terrified child,
I stood over it,
so you wouldn't see what I had done.

(first pub. in
The Indiana Voice, 2015)


Jessica Wiseman Lawrence grew up on a working farm in rural central Virginia, then studied creative writing at Longwood University. You can find her recent work upcoming or published in Stoneboat, Origins, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and The Feminine Divine's upcoming Anthology of Female Voices, along with many others. One of her poems has recently earned a Best of the Net nomination. She continues to live in rural central Virginia with her family, and she works as an office manager by day.

Welcome to the Kitchen, Jessica—and don’t be a stranger! Note that Jessica has sent us previously-published poems, which is A-OK with Medusa—a good poem deserves more than one showing, as long as you credit its first publication. I also see that Jessica has done a lot of submitting this year, and has had, therefore, a lot of acceptances (check out the credits on all these poems!). It’s great for a poet to have the confidence to submit frequently and not be discouraged by rejections. I hope you’re sending out lots of your work (and keeping good records!). The world is waiting…! As Jessica says, to someone out there we are earthshine, "we are bright, variable stars".



Jessica with Khaleesi