Issue January 22, 2013

Literary LEO 2013

Poetry — Second

When You Ask Me Why My Art Is Jagged

BY JINN FULLER RENFRO

Child, at times the integument gives?
and I am no skin no fur nothing?
but spine and ribs slicing light, air,
dark matter while words fall?
faster faster pooling in my clavicles
spilling from the basin of my hips re-formed
and if I could give you heritage
wisdom treasure in a syllable it is:?
Change. You will pule and moan
when it comes or you may stoic it
as I did for numberless years;??

this is all you can do. Change.
And witness change.??

You will see yourself become something
you never imagined you’d be
and reassurance this is how
everyone lives, we’ve all been here,
will be no reassurance?
will be white noise?
when your lover abandons you
when you cringe in shame?
when courage dangles from a high branch?
when you are unkind and forsworn
when your joints ache from strength expended?
when you hold death’s hand?
when your compassion mounts a sacrificial peak?
when you breathe the same breath as the monster.??

I promise you will feel the stretch
the crack the break the nothingness
the fierceness of a dispassionate universe?
acutely. It will hurt. The hurt
will be the truest thing you’ve known.
You will not be able to see beyond it.
You will be palpably alone with it
no matter who reaches out a hand?
and when you come through
the blessed vagueness of memory?
will obscure the view of what you were before.??

Child, you will crack through layer
after layer of brittle until you are free.
One day, you will stop trying to hide.?
When the pain comes, you will nod to it,?
let it do its work and as it strips you?
you will fashion a necklace of bone?
you will scrawl a poem a story in blood?
the vulnerable pulp of you will spill into song
your trembling phalanges will press
clay into wings, your tears will etch hope
across fragile film and beside you
one who is also suffering will see?
the image you cast off as you broke open?
and know she too will survive metamorphosis.

This is all you can do. Change.?
And witness change.