The Woman Next Door
The white mill houses in NoDa
were close enough to kiss, tiny yards
with a patch of scrubgrass
or a flowering tree—no room
for both. I watched her most
nights through gauzy curtains.
How she pressed the ice to her neck
in the heft of July. How she arched
her back when he touched her.
How she called out, wild, in the middle
of the night. Sometimes I answered.
By winter her silhouette began to swell,
she stood in the kitchen, hands cupping
in front of the spice rack. My eyes
escorted her around the room, haunted
by how the light could catch the wisp of her wrist
as she rubbed circles around that entire world.
I traced her outline with a pointer finger, each
bend and bow so full—her shadow
a swarming hive.
In bed that night I named each bee.
Please Use Your Inside Voice
Even when you’re screaming
about the day old milk crusting
around the edges
I’m crusting on the edges please
consider how life imitates art imitates
whatever is blooming blissful on the back shelf.
This is how a fruiting body withers, please
bring me my robe when you come back from
whatever room you’re hiding in.
The mice are hiding too, in holes
with little doors, their little hands too slight to slam
them shut when they find no crumbs
in the sectional.
Please don’t look at my pores—
growing larger with each news cycle indecent
sheen slicks my forehead from lack of.
And these legs have grown long, long as my
memory—thoughts of what the grass looks like
outside my own head.
Shadows take shape on the hardwoods, compete
with daily streaming, fight for attentions shorter
than an internet apology and when they bow,
all I see is static. Please.
Jessica Dionne is a poet from North Carolina. She is a PhD student at GSU, and she received her MFA in Poetry from NC State and her MA in Literature from UNCC. She won a 2020 International Merit Award from the Atlanta Review, and she was the runner-up in Meridian‘s 2021 Editors’ Prize, and a finalist in Arts and Letters‘ 2020 Poetry Prize, Iron Horse Literary Magazine‘s 2020 contest, and Narrative‘s 2019 30 Below contest. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hunger Mountain, Raleigh Review, Lucky Jefferson, Iron Horse, Narrative, Stoneboat, SWWIM, Rust + Moth, Banshee (IE), Mascara Literary Review (AU), and JMWW.