Two Poems by Jessica Morey-Collins
Who Cares About Consent
The world is a dangerous place. Pluckable love
thrums petaled in infinitely tender chests,
taunting predators! Taunted, predators venture
their plenitudes to get some—kingdoms
for mere peaks!—all these sleepless knights
over mere squeezes!—but if her heart’s not barbed,
her teeth not sharpened, how’s a flesh-starved
architect to avoid erecting his land of plenty
against such a fertile soft. But what’s lost
is lost—straw bombardiers pop and scatter
sawdust through the clear air. Silt laced valleys
basically beg for settlement; and the river scum
wants and will want forever for an honest sieve,
for cheeks in which to slosh, a throat
in which to gargle. Meanwhile, men astonish
at how wet I get, when it has nothing
to do with them. Watch! my moist weeping,
the geologic seep of me from headwaters
through the plentiful nectar-dripping mythos
of candid romance. Myths of candor—of love
snatched and snatchable—pander
to the masculine impulse to rip fistfuls
of dahlias from neighbors’ sockets.
Where is the flaw? I wanted what I took.
I looked at what I saw! Ok. Lenticular defects
seed differences in perspective. Let me get you
your flowchart, let me hold your breath. Let me
wretch on the land-owner’s natural altar. Let
me attempt to get it, this deposition, how power
slithers through love, eroding its inside
curves, piling sediment against its outside
curves, until force is the more recognizable
signifier for love, looming, even, over affection.
Much how the gentry settled where wetness left
remnants, where blessing-fed flowers loudly
begged to be cut, and pluckable love thrummed
thunderous, wonderful, unsafe in all
its scope and detail. I’ll never understand it.
When I arrived, the raccoon had chewed through the chicken’s neck and gone. Her sisters shrieked in their coop. While I cycled home, I listened to paraphrased accounts of women who survived Joseph James DeAngelo—blindfold, lotion pump, Coors can. I devour their narratives like I can callous. Who hasn’t hankered for flesh? The next day, I audit a bus station. The raccoon consumed its want of meat. Sidewalks slip into shaded neighborhoods. Industrial blocks cleave west; saplings bush at car level, block the eye. 35mph. 45mph. People rattle carts full of redeemable cans to the bottle drop. No sidewalk, no buffer. 45mph, 50. I duck into a rock shop and pay $5 for a fragment of lab-made bismuth. The shop-keep watched a cyclist struck just last week—the rider ran off without his cans, “must’ve had bigger problems,” the rock-seller said. Ligatures cinched so tight hands blackened and numbed. Hurt rubs even where I’ve singed it, methodical, listened again and again for bone-splinter until I heard nothing. Crunched cans. Christine texts that she watched a red fox frolic in a vacant lot, then saw its mangled body on the road the next day. She wants to tattoo her foot to look like a paw. The raccoon and its impulse—who can perform nature in a suburb? Our valuable trash, the man in the red truck plucks our glass twice weekly. A man once whispered “isn’t this natural” while dipping his fingers into my inert body. I lost all sensation. The rock-seller installed a fence so the cart-pushers wouldn’t traverse his parking lot. “What do I know,” the rock-seller said, “I’m not an engineer.” Outside, a wheel jams and cans tumble into the street. Someone screams “fuck.” That night, I make maps, vape CBD with friends in a pioneer cemetery. Sprawl and jut; spruce and swale; second house from the corner, single-story, sliding glass. “How many people do you think have fucked here?” I’ve stopped wanting flesh. Skeletons so old we don’t feel disrespectful getting high here. Shoelace ligatures, a fox neck bent all the way back. I want flesh so bad my bones howl. When I get home, the garbage has been collected—bottles and cans picked from the recycling, the hen’s broken body on its
passage to a land-
fill. We will eat her last egg
without knowing it.
About the Author:
Jessica Morey-Collins is a poet and land use planner. She received her MFA from the University of New Orleans, and her MCRP from the University of Oregon. Her poems can be found in Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, Sycamore Review and elsewhere. She tweets @cautiousmonster.
Cover image by electric-tobacconist via Flickr (cc).