Winter 2019 Poetry

Jessica Lynn Suchon

Penumbra

 

Child again, I steal my mother’s thimbles: little bells
ring on each fingertip, wedding bells, stiff
steel skirts forever twirling open. Once it was 

like this: I was a girl. Each night my mother
tucked me into bed, tickled her fingers across
my forehead, down the bridge of my slender nose,

promised pleasant dreams, promised

nothing I ever held would be enough
to ruin me.

*

We are still together. He wakes screaming, says he dreamt
of hollow bodies crawling out from holes in the walls,

says his father was there carving eyes into the floor
with a blunt kitchen knife. Two years after he is gone,

the same dream comes to me, but he is his father, the knife
a needle tattooing violet eyes across my skin.

*

His fist comes forward, uncurls
to a white crystal raven rising
from the flesh of his palm.
I take the bird between my fingers
and hold it to the light—a fissure torn
into its chest like an artery, small crater
where the heart should be.

It reminded me of you.

*

He fingers my collarbone
like a razor’s edge and turns
me around to look in the mirror,
admires my split lip and ripe
sockets of my eyes. Asks what I see.
I say, a Trojan horse,
a dead girl. I say, I see myself
on fire.

*

I carry him like a knife
in my jacket pocket.
When I try to tell someone
what he's done, he crawls
out from beneath my tongue
and pierces it with an anchor.

*

It’s happening again. He’s here
again. The eyes on my skin

open and open

again, blood, again—
I sew and sew and nothing stays shut.

 

 
 

 


Jessica Lynn Suchon is the author of Scavenger, winner of the 2018 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest and forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2019. She was a 2016 Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellow and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Willow Springs, Yemassee, Muzzle Magazine, and RHINO Poetry, among others. Her librettos have appeared or are forthcoming in works by Stephanie Ann Boyd for the Eureka Ensemble, EKMELES vocal ensemble, Æpex Contemporary Performance with the Dark Sky Project. 

 

 


 

  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.