J. BAILEY HUTCHINSON TAKES PLAN B IN MARSEILLE
styled after Christian Anton Gerard
One of last night’s dark corners: J. Bailey Hutchinson palmed keys
into her roommate’s pocket, in the club, the taxi—or maybe
the alley where she knocked the bark clean off her knee. I knocked
the bark clean off my knee, J. Bailey Hutchinson crooned into a tall
man’s neck, & he held her, thumbed the run in her tights & gentled
the bruise blooming there. J. Bailey Hutchinson didn’t believe herself
beautiful enough for this man who loomed her out of the bar, who said,
I will get us a hotel. Anywhere. Anywhere. Please stay, angel. Last night,
they found a room by the port & J. Bailey Hutchinson didn’t know
a man’s thigh could be so smooth, or how it felt to be poured-over. You are
my little angel, the man told J. Bailey Hutchinson, & when he slipped into
another language she read his body: blushing neck & darling, hair slick
to the root & lovely, tightly angled waist & want. Now, leaning against
her sorbet-orange door, sea-air & sleep-grease slick on her scalp,
J. Bailey Hutchinson has ten euros & an Amex. No keys. Now,
J. Bailey Hutchinson has to ask a neighbor oú est la pharmacie? & he points her
towards a green neon cross, squat and lineated. Inside, J. Bailey Hutchinson
approaches the counter, wipes her upper lip. S’il vous-plait, she says, low,
shame a hairless foot on her chest. In her mouth. Je voudrais plan B.
She says bee, not beh, & wonders if the woman behind the counter has a daughter
old enough to let a man lug her into the shower. Huit euro, the woman says, but
J. Bailey Hutchinson doesn’t move because she is convinced this
is supposed to be difficult, so the woman repeats, ate urr-os, please.
Mer, says J. Bailey Hutchinson. Merci beaucoup. Later, J. Bailey Hutchinson
will receive a postcard fat with stamps & cricket-leg lettering. I am telling to people
how I was kind of in love with the American that I pass a amazing and magical night
and day. Today, J. Bailey Hutchinson uses her last two euros to buy a coffee
& undresses the blister-pack. So small. No bigger than a screwhead.
J. Bailey Hutchinson places it in her mouth, deepens it into the soft
sublingual flesh of her tongue. With espresso. Swallows.
Blessed be my ponytail, o holiest of cables
for its baring of my skull-shape—
whose structure I once named loathsome
I have been known to say “because I look sick,”
when asked how come; “because my strands are thin
because my hairline is an arid coast
because it bares
a forehead that is readably textured;
because I remember lying on my back in my mother’s bed, my head a uvula
between her hands, her grip a loom
as she gathered me into a point, gathering, it felt, more hair than I even owned,
hauling even my eyebrows to a higher place
before tying me into the tight mouth of a rubber band,
all day my teachers crooning oh, honey, don’t you look excited!
—but this morning it felt right to be high-hiked,
the back of my head a serpent no thicker than thumbs but mine,
the dark straight spill on my shoulder like a wire of ivy, or a hand I let be there.
What we say is the bigger the hair, the closer you are to god,
and what I have is a one-lane-road
on which I am the only driver.
I paved the goddamn road.
I will take me where I please.
Clung up in the Cumberland Plateau
we do our best at no-sleep-needing.
Hoverfly unperturbable. We
miracle the porch—reading
poems. Eating whiskey. A friend
said she saw a fox there,
hoped the same for me.
In four days I have seen
every living skink. Seen,
also, a man’s very full
short-leg. I love the look
of that. A door of any make
at capacity. I wonder.
How me might fit there.
Night here a good
thin blanket and breathable.
Are you sure, I narrow-eye the stars,
the spuddy half-moon, you did not
knit thisfor me. But the reservoir
is deep, and the reservoir is
deep. The bed not mine. I cannot
touch that thigh. Do you remember
the lake? How we couldn’t see
no one in the dark. Just two dozen
bodies. Voice. I wasn’t there, but
given the lightlessness
I could say I was.
J. Bailey Hutchinson is a poet from Memphis, Tennessee. She is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where she is Poetry Editor for the Arkansas International literary magazine and Assistant Director of the Open Mouth Reading Series. Hutchinson is the winner of New South‘s 2018 Poetry Contest, and her work has appeared in Salamander, LIT magazine, Beloit, Nimrod, and more. Full publication and contact info is available at www.jbaileyhutchinson.com