Jennifer Reeser


Wafers I hate, and champagne, and the shore
   on overcast days when the beach is bleak,
the jellyfish, manta and man-of-war
   washed up on the strand with the crooked teak
of the driftwood; chocolate chip cookies and chairs
   made out of vinyl, metals that rust
or copious woods. I hate spiders and stairs
   without banisters; restlessness, sloth, wanderlust.

Man-made fabrics I hate, in coarse overblown plaids;
   fuschia, oatmeal-flecked granite and shrill smoke alarms.
Wafers I hate, and bizarre diet fads,
   and the thought of my love in another one's arms.

Sunday on Old Square

Criminals splintered a shop front
Saturday night in the rain,
lifting its hinge from the casements,
warping both glasses and grain.

Roaming the alleys in grayness,
early I saw it, and saw
smashed avocadoes on pavement,
ices beginning to thaw.

There was a store on the corner
bordered with mauve, its façade
lilac, Victorian, angled,
tall - several-storied - and odd.

Up to that hour, I'd been happy
not to be bothered by scenes:
cameras snapping their pictures,
ironwork, aquamarines.

Skies were an optic of eggshell,
uninterrupted November.
Suddenly I wanted portrait -
something from truth to remember.


She rested in the crevice of a socket
internal in the shed's devolving brick,
set high: jet-figured, lacquer-legged and thick,
smooth, huge, coiled up with cunning in a pocket
of cartilage web, to match the bone-white moths
ensnarled in her embroidery.

                                       A stick
of fig or oak I used some days to prick
her into action, not for torment, but
for fond experiment. That she could glut
herself on blood and sickened flight, yet keep
my wonder and affection never seemed
to trouble me, nor that a dainty slut
could hold me as her method-eaten loves.

Oh, she: so hour-glassed and so detached
from scruple, in desire so badly matched.

Most days, the shed was stifling, moist, the air
dolorous with the pine of mourning doves,
yet comforting, with us together there,
elite as polish, intricate as sin,
in tar and darkness, oil and mildew stain,
without a sound, digesting charm within;
and, sweating from the breadth of every pore,
who will have died when I want nothing more,
I might have suffocated to remain.

Blind Concessions

'The Sibyl, with frenzied mouth uttering things not to be laughed at, unadorned and unperfumed, yet reaches to a thousand years with her voice by aid of the god.'
(Heraclitus, fragment 12)

Sightless Sybil at the pastry stand
wears white, and with a checkered terry towel
wipes down the counter with one wrinkled hand,
always a smile above her cardigan cowl.

I wonder if she's ever seen herself,
or if the sightlessness has lasted long
as her own life. How does she know each shelf
so well, each packet's bin or hanging prong
with such unerring swiftness and ballet?
A patron wouldn't guess the eyes are dead.

Her hair is scissored neatly - brief, pearl-gray,
tucked close as a cap around the oval head.

She trusts you to divulge the right amount
you've placed into her palm, pale wrists upturned
against the flecked, faux-granite of the board.
Are they, in business baking, ever burned?
Are café noirs or instants ever poured
onto the flesh?
                     Because as motions go,
hers have the kind of clarity the seeing
could envy: that excess, that overflow
inherent in the bearing born of being.


Jennifer Reeser is the author of two collections published by Word Press. Her poems, translations and articles have appeared in Poetry, Botteghe Oscure, The National Review and The Formalist, among other publications. She is assistant editor to Iambs & Trochees, and lives in southern Louisiana.  Visit Jennifer Reeser's website.


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