Alyssa Jewell


after her smallest self-portrait

The light dies in a crease of smog over the November plain:
lacrimosa, I leave you. I knew you in some other life–
I will know you again. When the wool cut from spring sheep
is dyed steel blue under a pale sky, there I will bleed oil.
There the macaque monkey will perch above clusters of tangerine
and lemon growing in tall, stretching trees. Its claw will grasp
the handle of the crescent moon. It will swing its body among the stars.

This Quantum Entanglement: I shudder with you, mourn with you,
sing under the electric clouds by your notes alone. I heard your voice
once scattered in the roots of earth dying out, leading nowhere.
You heard me as a racket and flute slurring high above your head in pools
of cadmium yellow tinged with vermillion– a Midwestern gloam filtered
through the golden field poking at our backs, stalks laced around our gaping bodies.
O Magnum Mysterium: why should the clouds mirror one another, curl, then split?

I bind you as the sun to my forehead, as thorns around my neck,
all of my days. Most of all, I will suffer your stare, the memory of it: bright
rotting fruit and cactus needles glowing over my ankles, knifing through
to meet my metatarsals already bent of an unforgiving wreckage.
Blessings of the earth on you, cause of my sorrows that swim to every surface.
Blessings of the earth on you, my joy grown green out of a deluge now settled
into the blue lakes and blue haze, into bruised fingernails and burning planets–

            Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?

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Alyssa Jewell studies poetry at Western Michigan University where she served as assistant editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and is currently poetry editor for Third Coast. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2016, Cider Press Review, The Columbia Review, Fifth Wednesday, Grist, Meridian, Painted Bride Quarterly, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Quarterly West, and Zone 3, among other publications. She lives and teaches in Grand Rapids.