Tuesday May 21

Plante Poetry Ösel Jessica Plante's poetry, and flash fiction, has appeared or is forthcoming in the Best Small Fictions 2016 anthology, The Adroit Journal, Puerto del Sol, South Dakota Review, the minnesota review, Mid-American Review, Mississippi Review, New Ohio Review, Rattle, Zone 3 and others. She was runner-up in Meridian's Poetry Contest 2017, and a finalist for the 2016 Mississippi Review Prize. She earned an MFA from UNC-Greensboro and is pursuing a PhD in Poetry at Florida State University. More of her work can be found here.

The Navy Wife’s Plan for Her Wedding Dress

It’s time to get rid of it, stained now and the stitching
in the armpits torn from dancing, a dribble of gravy

on the bodice set into the satin. Silent and full of air
where my body once stood beside you, that day in Cohasset,

the priest who barely knew us, your mother in the same
shade of periwinkle as my bridesmaids, upset at your choice,

her prohibition ignored. My father cried more than my mother,
if she even cried at all. Vintage, 1930s, the kind of dress

that had a story to tell. At the reception my aunts exclaimed 
over the fabric: opalescent, golden-hued, a patina rich and lit

from within. Maybe that’s what drew me to buy it long before
I’d met you. I’d needed a dream stuck in a box taped shut

in my closet. But then I met you, and my mother paid
to have me fitted into it. Scraps cut from the hem and waist;

two women turning about me with pins between their lips,
my body draped in too much white. A third woman watches,

my mother, making small noises beneath her breath, the way
she always did, so I never could tell if she was disappointed

or pleased. I will burn it at the stake; suspend it on a wire
hanger on a limb of the oak over a fire in my backyard. 

Watch as the hem catches in a ring of rose-gold flame.  

Gospel According to the Second Person

You don't want to be anywhere he's been
after the relationship ends and it's such a small town
you think, did he stand at this café counter

and order the cold brew earlier today? Because
you know how he takes it, and you can't stop thinking
about how he took it from you, so that later when

you’re walking through woods down trails you showed
him, picking up bits of trash and stuffing them into
a Dairy Queen styrofoam cup someone’s abandoned

(because you want to leave things better than you found
them) it's a little ironic that you also want to burn
it all down to scrub his memory from the planet. You

know that's not logical, so you decide to work harder,
to really knuckle down, get stronger. To get him
off your mind you fly to Costa Rica, enter a commune

(for a week) then find yourself sitting one night on
a beach in Colón Panama with an Ecuadorian
shaman who holds out his brew of roots, leaves

and shoots while the moon tosses her preserver
of light over the ocean, speaking in a language you
now understand is one hundred percent emotion.

Tiny bird, precious girl the brew breathes and for
a while you believe, but then, in all this knuckling
under you can’t help but remember his knuckles,

the backs of his hands that reminded you so much
of your mother's, her gold rings sliding her fingers,
coming to rest against the first knot of bone, like they

were looking for a permanent home. Take me everywhere
with you
, you’d told him. And so he took you to the edge,
watched you leap, then turned, went home, made himself

a sandwich, and wrote a song about a girl he used
to love a long time ago, whom he lost. My poor soul,
he sings, my poor soul. I wouldn't trade you for anything.

Lying on a Bench in Dorothy B. Oven Park, I’m Mistaken for a Homeless Woman

I'm not homeless, I'm a poet, I say to the groundskeeper
who interrupts as I stare at the sky’s generous arousal
thinking about X. Is there something you need, he asks?

But nothing, not even the squirrel with her acorn
has more than I do, not even the spade in his hand
has less. If, to a man with a hammer, all things look

like a nail, what about the man with a spade—do I
look like the soft, mute language of soil waiting for
something where nothing is? It’s like that when I’m

with X, like trying to find the right amount of nakedness
my first time at a nudist beach, to calculate the indescribable
space between my mouth and the Pleiades. No way

to fill X's plate with fire, or a minnow hiding in its
silver scales of wish. If language were an element,
sturdy enough to taste, then my body is the little hump

-backed bridge rising above this pebbled stream. I’m half
an experience and no less foreign, homeless in the heart
of world. Yes, yes, I need everything.

The Magician

Mystery is not the same as the place
where you will discover love.

No doubling back to find the one
who never arrived

walking out of the body
of the one who left you. A trapeze artist

keeps her knees bent in sleep.
It does not mean she is dreaming of kneeling.

How many faces have you held
in your palms like a ripe tomato, full of sun

and teaching you about worship?
Count in your head backwards from ten

then feel the sturdy blank beating
of your heart. Anyway, half the time we’re empty.