Literary LEO 2013
Poetry — Second
When You Ask Me Why My Art Is Jagged
BY JINN FULLER RENFRO
Child, at times the integument gives
and I am no skin no fur nothing
but spine and ribs slicing light, air,
dark matter while words fall
faster faster pooling in my clavicles
spilling from the basin of my hips re-formed
and if I could give you heritage
wisdom treasure in a syllable it is:
Change. You will pule and moan
when it comes or you may stoic it
as I did for numberless years;
this is all you can do. Change.
And witness change.
You will see yourself become something
you never imagined you’d be
and reassurance this is how
everyone lives, we’ve all been here,
will be no reassurance
will be white noise
when your lover abandons you
when you cringe in shame
when courage dangles from a high branch
when you are unkind and forsworn
when your joints ache from strength expended
when you hold death’s hand
when your compassion mounts a sacrificial peak
when you breathe the same breath as the monster.
I promise you will feel the stretch
the crack the break the nothingness
the fierceness of a dispassionate universe
acutely. It will hurt. The hurt
will be the truest thing you’ve known.
You will not be able to see beyond it.
You will be palpably alone with it
no matter who reaches out a hand
and when you come through
the blessed vagueness of memory
will obscure the view of what you were before.
Child, you will crack through layer
after layer of brittle until you are free.
One day, you will stop trying to hide.
When the pain comes, you will nod to it,
let it do its work and as it strips you
you will fashion a necklace of bone
you will scrawl a poem a story in blood
the vulnerable pulp of you will spill into song
your trembling phalanges will press
clay into wings, your tears will etch hope
across fragile film and beside you
one who is also suffering will see
the image you cast off as you broke open
and know she too will survive metamorphosis.
This is all you can do. Change.
And witness change.