A Poem By Jessica Baran

by Mark Bibbins, Editor


I am going to tell you who you are. That your voice, claimed as mine, will drown. I wonder about the weight of your voice versus mine. I wonder what it would feel like in my hands. Would it be a suitcase of mirrors or a glass box full of lead? Would it be a sheet on which you painted all of your wrong thoughts — the ones you had candidly in the night, behind your eyes, unuttered as your limbs twitched? It was a dreamless night. All the houses went black. Words are something that can be applied after the fact: the fact of two people crossing the street. The fact of you weaving your hands around my waist. You push your fingers through button holes. Holes sometimes signify the fact that a thing can be lifted and moved. You move me. I speak for you. This is a kind of collaboration. I’ll never know the exact weight of this movement, but I do understand its gravity. Like a grave, it is safe from worms. Like your hair, it looks like a wispy, meaningless alphabet. Like the person crossing the street, I am assigning you and it castaway roles. I am happy with metaphors — I am heavy with them. I am happy to be the drawer in which all of your hard-earned things fit.

after Carlos Reyes, Matt Mullican, and John Smith

Jessica Baran co-curates the fort gondo poetry series in St. Louis. Her second poetry collection, Equivalents, won the inaugural Besmilr Brigham Women Writers Prize by Lost Roads Press.

When you’re ready for more poems, more poems are ready for you. You may contact the editor at poems@theawl.com.