/jessica dionne

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
                            possibility, swaying
              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.