Two poems by Jenn Blair
some / small balm that despite all the loss / there was a service in her violence, / that in this particular case, her own / hands grasped the scissors.
Face Cut Out For Locket
If she had not put the reminder
on the back in her neat small script
would it have puzzled her to one day
run across such senseless mutilation?
Or were the words for any others
who might stumble across it, some
small balm that despite all the loss
there was a service in her violence,
that in this particular case, her own
hands grasped the scissors.
Why did she throw herself away
then take such care to keep herself
standing in her parents backyard
in a white dress and dark jacket,
the barn behind her left shoulder
where she and her sisters drug
a phonograph to the hayloft and
put on plays, her mother’s swath
of hollyhocks high as her slim waist.
Perhaps it was a reverence for the
scenery, but more likely, thrift,
for mainly she had no time for it,
sentiment, this woman I tried
all my life to know. But I am
weaker than her and cannot resist,
temporarily holding her body aloft
watching light flood through.
She will pretty herself for the boy
whose guitar pants for holiness, the
one who looks to no girl in the pew
but up past the angels with pinched
together eyes and unconvincing hands
donated by the rich woman who flew
to stain-glass classes after her husband’s
second stroke. She bought the box
at the grocery, relieved by its promise
to lighten the dark hair she detests,
the cover which sends her to class in
long sleeves and keeps her sweltering
at summer camp. Safely home, she sits
on the edge of the bathtub and mixes
the crème with the powder, uses the little
pale plastic shovel to cake her disgrace,
trying not to breathe in the sharp fumes.
We’re Scottish, we needed to keep warm
in those cold high hills—her father’s only
offering the one time she dared to ask
it aloud—what was wrong with her.
When she can stand the burning no longer,
she washes the mixture off, examining
her reddened skin. If the boy sings
tonight in his tasteful worn denim
the praise will go straight to God
but if he ever does eye all the swaying
arms, hers will be smoother, the unruliness
goldened, thinned, and chastened.
Let him follow them down and find
a soul committed as his own.
Jenn Blair’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Appalachian Heritage, Cold Mountain Review, the South Carolina Review, Chattahoochee Review, Berkley Poetry Review, Rattle, New South, and Copper Nickel among others. Her book of poetry Malcontent is out from Press Americana and she also has a chapbook of poetry titled The Sheep Stealer (Hyacinth Girl Press). She is from Yakima, WA.