Assistant poetry editor Stephen Wardell on today’s bonus poem: This poem by Jessica Morey-Collins flies in a circular motion, uniting families in the suburb with ghosts in the desert. In this prose poem, long, lovely sentences are curtly broken with the ominous signs of war.
Teachers Tell Me that from Far
the force of our recitation spins a pinwheel planted at the edge of a desert. A child, standing on the hem of a suburb, gathers her scraped knees to listen. Her father is a thought-form, broad-shouldered, palm-fronds flapping from his neck-hole. He bought a gun to protect her from the Muslims. Landlocked, she plucks a blade of scrub-grass, touches it to the lips of her invisible twin—a kid like her, padding over shattered glass. Flashlight under-chin, she reads stories of girls like her in distant deserts, senses a far-off simultaneity, gossamer same-same of first crushes, frustrated love of fathers, fathers filled-to-burst with fear. Kite shadows. Drones float overhead.
They pick their scabs and believe in love. As fragile as a spider’s web. Her shadow vanishes as the dust of collapsing structures blots out the sun. Her shadow vanishes as she slips into cool proximity of stucco. Strands clot into cobweb. Their mothers are herds of extinct pachyderms. Their fathers are lost languages. Equidistant from each, I am lost in a congregation chanting mantra. Palm fronds waft smoke from cedar, a sweet fog to feed hungry ghosts. Distant needs—pleas for understanding, for stability. One’s country floods the other’s with drones—
home is a blown dandelion, the sky frothed with coptering seeds.
The teacher tells me that though we are distant, our mantra recitation is a karmic influx that can empty any deserts’ pressure systems. Smoke billows. A pinwheel, elsewhere, spins.
Jessica Morey-Collins is a Pushcart nominated poet and educator living in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her MFA from the University of New Orleans, where she won an Academy of American Poets award, and worked as associate poetry editor for Bayou Magazine. She was a finalist for the 2016 Iron Horse Review Chapbook Contest and the 4th Annual Gigantic Sequins Poetry Contest. Her poems and essays can be found in Pleiades, The Pinch, Juked, Animal Literary Journal, and elsewhere.