The koi were killed by a possum killed by
our dog, whose barks brought my dad to the dark
yard, along with me—his stand-in son, his
midnight shadow. In the glower of the flashlight,
the dog’s eyes were red and rolling, the possum’s
fur bright as an errant scrap of daylight.
The dog wouldn’t put it down, bent the pipe
of the pool skimmer my father used to lever
the body free from his jaws. My parents
gave the dog away soon after. Because, I suspect,
wildness can live in the suburbs only so long
as it doesn’t bare its teeth; so long as when the light
finds it, it drops its prey and wags its tail;
so long as we confine our darkness to the dark.
IN THE GROVE OF SELF-CHARGING TREES
Darling do you remember
the [one] you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.
It is early enough that fog still skeins
the highest branches.
And twining each tree: a cable
rough-creped as wild grape vine,
with both ends socketed
into the trunk. Murmur and fizz
of power pulled from the sky,
from the earth—power recirculated
by the cables, nothing wasted.
In a clearing
no bigger than our cabin's double bed, you spread
a blue blanket. We make a picnic
of a peach and a plum. Then, with no top sheet, no
clothes, not even a bracelet—How long has it been,
love, since we touched? Even
our kisses are given
on the way to something else.
Yet here, our bodies
do not just tighten but seal
fast around the other and we
kiss the kind of kiss that’s like entering
a glass cathedral, a structure that exists
to emphasize the space it contains
while leaving visible all it does not.
into that kiss as we move
into each other—with gentle
force, a matched insistence—
and all the trees begin to hum. Self-charging circuits,
all of us, drawing from the world
a stream of heat and light, which we pass between us
like a fire that burns but does not consume.
I wake to your back; your body
an early-morning house in which all the inhabitants are still
asleep, the lights extinguished, the doors locked and bolted. Yet
beside our bed, the marigolds you brought me
burn like paper caught in the act of ignition, orange and red
petals of flame. And on each of our ring-fingers, the same
silver band: my promise to you,
my charge, that through the forest and fog, through
the busy thicket, I will
never stop finding my way
to your door. All I need from you
is to answer;
all you have to do is let me in.
Tiger beetles, crickets, velvet ants, all
know the useful friction of part on part,
how rub of wing to leg, plectrum to file,
marks territories, summons mates. How
a lip rasped over finely tined ridges can
play sweet as a needle on vinyl. But
sometimes a lone body is not enough.
So a sapsucker drums the chimney flash
for our amped-up morning reveille. Or,
later, home again, the wind’s papery
come hither through the locust leaves. The roof
arcing its tin back to meet the rain.
The bed’s soft creak as I roll to my side.
What sounds will your body make against mine?
-from TAKE ME WITH YOU, WHEREVER YOU’RE GOING (Four Way Books, 2019), selected by Fall 2022 Guest Editor, Michael Walsh
Jessica Jacobs is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going, a memoir-in-poems of love and marriage, winner of the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry and one of Library Journal‘s Best Poetry Books of the Year, and Pelvis with Distance, a biography-in-poems of Georgia O’Keeffe, winner of the New Mexico Book Award and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. An avid long-distance runner, Jessica serves as Chapbook Editor for Beloit Poetry Journal and lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown, with whom she co-authored Write It!, a collection of writing prompts from Spruce Books, an imprint of Penguin/RandomHouse. She is the founder of Yetzirah, an organization for Jewish poets, and unalone, her collection of poems in conversation with the Book of Genesis, is forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2024.