I want to tell myself a story, and so I have.
There once was a girl. The body knows this. It climbs
like the girl once will, atop the lichened boulder,
atop the red-rocked mountain. It calls
the bruising sun of August to flare and fill the lens
so all that’s left of memory is light and legs,
the blue hem of a dress and its white unbuttoning
erased and unerased. Accepting this is easier
than teaching our salted tongues to pray.
Yesterday, in the still and light-soaked room,
the body will speak of teeth and skin and pills.
The girl and I will try hard not to listen. I have told her
and wanted to tell, I am saying it now so I might hear
me—we can hold it all, the seconds that go before
and after us, spreading into the universe, each one
split and endless and whole.
Jenny Yang Cropp is the author of the poetry collection String Theory (Mongrel Empire Press), a 2016 Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and two poetry chapbooks, Not a Bird or a Flower (Ryga, 2018) and Hanging the Moon (RockSaw, 2010). She is an Assistant Professor of English at Southeast Missouri State University where she teaches poetry and publishing and serves as the poetry editor for Big Muddy.