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The Poem She Never Wrote
Was born past midnight,
stood stopped in the freezing foyer
of a college friend’s rented house,
looking out the sidelight windows
at the full moon that struck so hard
and thought: I must be written
when she gets home.
Instead she stayed out late
and forgot the connection
between the way the moon looked
and the glass through which she saw it—
antique and therefore warped
like memory or age.
And then she had papers to write
and graduation to attend
and a boyfriend to marry
and babies to birth.
But she never forgot the image
of that white moon through glass.
She thinks about it at night
before falling asleep,
what she had meant to do
all those years ago.
What had been so important
about the way the air froze
coming out of her mouth
and fogged the vision?
It’s almost enough to stop her worries—
her growing-up children
asleep in their beds—
this poem that never was.
They’ve hired a body language expert
to interpret my dreams
of other women handing me their sickly babies
and being able to nurse again.
In pity, my breasts recall the twinge and spurt
but I wake up dry.
They’ve hired a handwriting expert
to analyze the cuneiform
on the walls of my uterus.
My son said he saw wolves in there.
I don’t imagine this was a good experience.
I visualize it cut out and discarded.
Last week my daughter asked if I could still give her a sister.
That she feels this as something missing saddens me.
What’s worse, at twelve, she’s begun
to ask me why her hips are so narrow.
For proof that women are real
I look at Tintoretto’s Origin of the Milky Way.
Juno’s breastmilk sprays past baby Hercules—
denies him immortality—
as if its propulsion is what rockets her to the heavens,
keeps her painted flesh suspended there.
Oh, but the stars her milk births,
and the lilies of the earth
experts agree were cut from the canvas—
as if proof of their existence
depends upon their disappearance.
Jessica Purdy teaches Poetry Workshops at Southern New Hampshire University. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. In 2014 she was nominated by Flycatcher for Best New Poets and Best of the Net. She was a featured reader at the Abroad Writers’ Conference in Dublin, Ireland, 2015. Recently her poems have appeared in Silver Birch Press “Beach and Pool Memories” Series, Local Nomad, Bluestem Magazine, The Telephone Game, The Tower Journal, The Cafe Review, Off the Coast, The Foundling Review, and Flycatcher. Her chapbook, Learning the Names, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press.
Love this piece! Will post it for Women’s History Month.